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Court Cases

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by

Christian Carrizales

on 30 January 2014

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Transcript of Court Cases

Court Cases
NAACP v. Alabama (1958)
Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
Schenck v. United States (1919)
By: Christian Carrizales, Gustavo Gutierrez, and Savannah
BACKGROUND:
During World War I, Charles T. Schenck, the Secretary of the American Socialist Party, mailed thousands of circulars to draftees. These circulars suggested that the draft was a “monstrous wrong” motivated by the capitalist system and urged, "Do not submit to intimidation." While his circulars advised only peaceful action (such as petitioning to repeal the Conscription Act (1863)—wartime draft which called for the registration of all males between the ages of 20 and 45) Schenck was charged with conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act (1917)—made it a crime for any person to convey information intended to interfere with the U.S. war effort and/or promote the success of the country’s enemies—by attempting to obstruct recruitment.

CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION:
Are Schenck's actions (words, expression) protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment?

VOICE OF MAJORITY:
“The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to
create a clear and present danger
that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."
Basically, during wartime, utterances tolerable in peacetime can be punished.

JUDGEMENT:
The Supreme Court affirmed Schenck’s conviction.

VOICE OF MINORITY:
There is none. The ruling was unanimous.

BACKGROUND:
Clarence Brandenburg, a leader in the Ku Klux Klan, made a speech at a Klan rally and was later convicted under an Ohio Criminal Syndicalism law. The law made illegal advocating "crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform," as well as assembling "with any society, group, or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism."

CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION:
Did Ohio's criminal syndicalism law, prohibiting public speech that advocates various illegal activities, violate Brandenburg's right to free speech as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

VOICE OF MINORITY:
There is none. The ruling was unanimous.

COURT RULING:
9 Votes for the United States, 0 against

VOICE OF MAJORITY:
“…the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
The Court used a two-pronged test to the evaluate speech acts:
1. Speech can be prohibited if it is "directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action"
2. It is "likely to incite or produce such action."
The Criminal Syndicalism act made illegal the advocacy and teaching of doctrines while ignoring whether or not that advocacy and teaching would actually
incite imminent lawless action
.

JUDGEMENT:
The Supreme Court reversed Brandenburg’s conviction.

COURT RULING:
8 Votes for Brandenburg, 0 against

BACKGROUND:
As part of its strategy to prevent the NAACP from operating, Alabama required it to reveal to the State's Attorney General the names and addresses of all the NAACP's members and agents in the state.

CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION:
Did Alabama's requirement violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

VOICE OF MINORITY:
There is none. The ruling was unanimous.

JUDGEMENT:
The Supreme Court reversed the NAACP’s conviction.

COURT RULING:
9 Votes for NAACP, 0 against

VOICE OF MAJORITY:
“…in view of the facts and circumstances shown in the record, the effect of compelled disclosure of the membership lists will be to abridge the rights of its rank-and-file members to engage in lawful association in support of their common beliefs. It contends that governmental action which, although not directly suppressing association, nevertheless carries this consequence, can be justified only upon some
overriding valid interest of the State
.”
Basically, Alabama’s efforts to impede the NAACP’s development had no justification. It was merely undergone for the “interest of the states”.
Full transcript