Schenck V. US Supreme Court Case Study

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The U. S. Constitution doesn’t ever specifically mention ones right to privacy. The Bill of Rights, however, reflects the concern of James Madison and other framers for protecting specific aspects of privacy, such as the privacy of beliefs (1st Amendment), privacy of the home against demands that it be used to house soldiers (3rd Amendment), privacy of the person and possessions as against unreasonable searches (4th Amendment), and the 5th Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination, which provides protection for the privacy of personal information. In addition, the Ninth Amendment states that the "enumeration of certain rights" in the Bill of Rights "shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people."…show more content…
United States ), is a seminal case in Constitutional Law, representing the first time that the U.S. Supreme Court heard a First Amendment challenge to a federal law on free speech grounds. On December 20, 1917, Charles Schenck was convicted in federal district court for violating the Espionage Act, which prohibited individuals from obstructing military recruiting, hindering enlistment, or promoting insubordination among the armed forces of the United States. Schenck, who was the general secretary of the Socialist party in the United States, had been indicted for mailing antidraft leaflets to more than fifteen thousand men in Philadelphia. The leaflets equated the draft with Slavery, characterized conscripts as criminals, and urged opposition to American involvement in World War I. Schenck appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. Attorneys for Schenck challenged the constitutionality of the Espionage Act on First Amendment grounds. Freedom of Speech, Schenck's attorneys argued, guarantees the liberty of all Americans to voice their opinions about even the most sensitive political issues, as long as their speech does not incite immediate illegal action. Attorneys for the federal government argued that freedom of speech does not include the freedom to undermine the selective service system by casting aspersions upon the draft. In a 9–0 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed Schenck's conviction. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. delivered the opinion. Holmes observed that the constitutionality of all speech depends on the circumstances in which it is spoken. No reasonable interpretation of the First Amendment, Holmes said, protects utterances that
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