The Supreme Court of South Carolina held that the words "humiliate," "insult" and "scare" in a city ordinance prohibiting certain public disturbances are not sufficiently definite to provide reasonable notice and that the section of the ordinance containing those words was therefore unconstitutional for vagueness.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina held that a provision of Greenville's public disturbance ordinance was unconstitutional. Subsection (3) of the ordinance, Greenville, S.C. Code - 24-32 (1985), made it unlawful for any person to "Molest or disturb any person by the making of obscene remarks or such remarks and actions as would humiliate, insult, or scare any person . . . ." The plaintiff, a street preacher on a public sidewalk, yelled at three women, "Faggots, you will burn in hell." A Greenville city officer arrested Plaintiff for violating the ordinance.
The Court held that the subsection was unconstitutionally vague because the words "humiliate," "insult," and "scare" "are not sufficiently definite to give reasonable notice of the prohibited conduct." The Court wrote:
This provision is subjective because the words that humiliate, insult, or scare one person may not have the same effect on another person. Therefore, people of common intelligence may be forced to guess at the provision's meaning and may differ as to its applicability. Subsection (3) . . . is not precisely written in a way that would notify a person of the certain specific conduct that is prohibited. Accordingly, we find subsection (3) is unconstitutional because it is facially vague.