Presentation on theme: "Schenck v US 1919. Facts of the case Charles Schenck, Secretary of the Socialist party, was charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 Along with."— Presentation transcript:
Facts of the case Charles Schenck, Secretary of the Socialist party, was charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 Along with other members, he printed and distributed 15,000 leaflets against the government to men eligible to the draft He was convicted in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Constitutional Question Did the Espionage Act of 1917 violate the First Amendment rights of free speech and free press? Was there a right to free speech against the draft? Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.
Precedent Cases Schenck v US was the first case to directly question whether the government might limit free speech under special circumstances
Courts Decision and Reasoning The Court unanimously ruled against Schenck and upheld the Espionage Act The First Amendment does not protect speech encouraging insubordination. The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing panic. Court held that circumstances of wartime permit greater restrictions on free speech Interference by any action that hinders the efforts of the nation during war cannot be protected by a constitutional right
Impact Today In writing the opinion, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. set the clear and present danger test Standard test in cases where a US law limits a citizens 1st Amendment rights Law is deemed constitutional if it can show that the language/action it prohibits poses a clear and present danger Established that certain speech allowed during peacetime may be prohibited during wartime
Impact Cont. The clear and present danger test was later modified by Holmes in Abrams v. US (1919) If imminent danger could not be demonstrated then speech could not be lawfully limited And again in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) Requires actual empirical finding of imminent harm
AP Exam Facts First time the U.S. Supreme Court heard a First Amendment challenge to federal law on the grounds of free speech Schenck v. US created restrictions on free speech and defined that right as not absolute Clear and Present Danger Separates protected speech (public criticism of government) from unprotected speech (advocacy of illegal action)