Schneck VS The United States 1919

Tested the First Amendment Freedom of Speech during Crisis


Is the First Amendment violated when Congress makes a law that punishes dissent in wartime?

Basic Facts:

  • The United States WWI in 1917 and Congress passed the Espionage Act to oversee the draft and those being disobedient and disrupting it it.

  • Charles Schneck was against the war and mailed thousands of flyers and pamphlets to those being drafted into the War. The flyers argued the government's role in drafting people over

  • The government accused Schneck of violating the Espionage Act and said that his pamphlets were used for the intention to persuade soldiers to act against the loyalty of the US and the Espionage Act. Schneck retaliated saying that the Espionage Act was unconstitutional.

  • Taken before the Supreme Court in 1919

  • The Court ruled in a unanimous decision in supporting Schneck’s conviction, that the conviction did not violate his First Amendment rights of Free Speech because he is allowed to say all those things he said in the pamphlet, but how far a persons freedom of speech extends depends on the circumstances.
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Constitutional Reference

This case referenced the First Amendment and a person's right to Freedom of Speech during a crisis or wartime and how far this right reaches during these type of situations. It comments on sedition.

Sedition: conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch

Sedition, especially during a crisis harms the unity and loyalty of a nation.

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The Government's right to a “clear and present danger test” to test people's Freedom of Speech right in a time of crisis and war.

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