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The Supreme Court Case of Charles Schenck vs United States

An explanation of the Supreme Court case of Charles Schenck vs the United States. By Tacara J. Allen, DeArron Marshall, & Sedrick Bowman for Coach Coggins

Janae Allen

on 28 November 2012

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Transcript of The Supreme Court Case of Charles Schenck vs United States

Facts about the case So, how did the Espionage Act of 1917 get Charles Schenck arrested? Section 3 (out of the 9) of the Espionage Act of 1917 was used to prosecute Schenck and which says: When did the case of Charles T. Schenck vs the United States happen? The Supreme Court case of Charles T. Schenck versus the United States of America was argued on January 8–10, 1919 and decided on March 3, 1919. Here is an Excerpt from Schenck's Pamphlet: "Assert Your Rights". Significance of Charles Schenck vs United States In Schenck vs United States, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government. The court distinguished between dangerous expressions and dangerous acts, stating that the sentiments expressed in Schenck’s writings were considered to be an immediate threat to the country’s safety and the well being of its people. Supreme Court Decision The Supreme Court case of By: Brittany Richardson, Sedrick Bowman, DeArron Marshall, & Tacara Allen Charles T. Schenck vs the United States Now for the Verdict! Who was Charles T. Schenck? Charles T. Schenck was the general secretary of the Socialist Party in the United States. During World War I, he was arrested for creating and distributing 15,000 pamphlets that urged men to "assert your rights" and resist being drafted to fight in the waron the grounds that military conscription constituted involuntary servitude, which is prohibited by the 13th Amendment. Why did the case of Charles T. Schenck versus United States take place? Schenck was charged with attempting to obstruct recruitment efforts and the draft. He was charged and convicted under the Espionage Act of 1917 that stated that people could not say, print, or publish anything against the government during times of war. He appealed to the Supreme Court because he said that the law violated his First Amendment right to free speech. Facts about the Espionage Act of 1917 The Espionage Act of 1917 (Pub.L. 65-24, 40 Stat. 217, enacted June 15, 1917) is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson and enacted by the 65th United States Congress. It has been amended numerous times over the years. ”Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports of false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military..., shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty..., or shall willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.” "In exempting clergymen and members of the Society of Friends (popularly called Quakers) from active military service the examination boards have discriminated against you.
If you do not assert and support your rights you are helping to "deny or disparage rights" which it is the solemn duty of all citizens and residents of the United States to retain.
In lending tacit or silent consent to the conscription law, in neglecting to assert your rights, you are (whether knowingly or not) helping to condone and support a most infamous and insidious conspiracy to abridge and destroy the sacred and cherished rights of a free people. You are a citizen: not a subject! You delegate your power to the officers of the law to be used for your good and welfare, not against you.
... When you conscript a man and compel him to go abroad to fight against his will, you violate the most sacred right of personal liberty and substitute for it what Daniel Webster called "despotism in its worst form."
... Exercise your rights of free speech, peaceful assemblage and petition the government for redress of grievances. Come to the headquarters of the Socialist Party..., and sign a petition to Congress for the repeal of the Conscription Act." Obviously, this had a huge significance at the time. It seriously lessened the strength of the First Amendment during times of war by removing its protections of the freedom of speech when that speech could incite a criminal action (like dodging the draft). The "Clear and Present Danger" rule lasted until 1969. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, this test was replaced with the "Imminent Lawless Action" test. “The Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes ruled unanimously against Schenck. It argued that even though he had the right to free speech under the First Amendment during peacetime, this right to free speech was curtailed during war if they presented a clear and present danger to the United States. It is in this decision that Holmes made his famous statement about free speech: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic." Also known as Case 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
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