Supreme Court Decisions Case Study

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Supreme Court Decisions The Espionage Act of 1917 was passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. Originally, it prohibited attempts to interfere with military operations, military recruitment, or attempts to support U.S. enemies during wartime. It also prohibited military insubordination. In Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 48 (1919), General Secretary of the American Socialist Party Charles T. Schenk appealed his prior conviction under the Espionage Act of 1917 on the grounds that it violated his First Amendment Right to free speech. Schenck was convicted of mailing approximately fifteen thousand letters to those who had registered for the draft in an attempt to persuade them to assert their opposition to same. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction and in the Court’s unanimous delivered opinion, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes,…show more content…
Both believed that the war was just another way for large corporations to turn giant profits at the expense of hundreds of thousands of American lives in a war on foreign soil. Opposition to the war came naturally to both of them because of their contempt for American government and American business. With his rulings, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is clearly stating that freedom of speech shall be treated differently during times of war. Any incitement of insubordination or speech detrimental to the war effort would lead to federal prosecution. In my opinion, since Schenck v. U.S. established the clear and present danger test, and the Debs v. U.S. ruling was based on the Schenck precedent, both cases did indeed use the clear and present danger test. The Espionage Act of 1917 was mostly repealed in 1921, and in that same year, President Warren G. Harding pardoned Debs from prison. References Schenck v. U.S., 249 U.S. 47 (1919) Debs v. U.S., 249 U.S. 211

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