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