Abrams v. United States (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
In Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 40 S.Ct. 17, 63 L. Ed. 1173 (1919), the U.S. Supreme Court applied the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER test in upholding the conviction of five anti-war protestors, who had been charged with SEDITION for distributing pamphlets criticizing President WOODROW WILSON during WORLD WAR I. However, the case is remembered more for the lone dissenting opinion written by Justice OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES JR., architect of the original clear-and-present-danger test just eight months earlier. Holmes's dissent argued that FREEDOM OF SPEECH cases analyzed under the FIRST AMENDMENT to the U.S Constitution must be subjected to a heightened level of judicial scrutiny before legislation abridging free expression could be upheld, a level of scrutiny that was eventually adopted by a majority of the Court for the balance of the twentieth century.
The case began on August 23, 1918, when Jacob Abrams, a Russian immigrant and a professed anarchist, was arrested in New York City with four others. Abrams and his comrades admitted to writing, printing, and distributing two sets of leaflets, one in English and one in...
(The entire section is 1718 words.)
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Abrams v. United States (Great American Court Cases)
Legal Citation: 250 U.S. 616 (1919)
Jacob Abrams, Mollie Steimer, Hyman Lachowsky, Samuel Lipman
That they were not legally convicted of conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act of 1917.
Chief Lawyer for Appellants
Chief Lawyer for Appellee
Robert T. Stewart
Justices for the Court
John Hessin Clarke (writing for the Court), William Rufus Day, Charles Evans Hughes, Joseph McKenna, James Clark McReynolds, Willis Van Devanter, Edward Douglass White
Louis D. Brandeis, Oliver Wendell Holmes
Date of Decision
10 November 1919
Upheld the conviction and the Espionage Act as constitutional.
In his dissent, Holmes advanced a revised version of his own "clear and present danger" standard in Schenck v. United States The new standard gave greater protection to political speech, even during wartime. Holmes's reasoning was adopted by the Court during...
(The entire section is 2307 words.)