Opinions & Commentaries

This is an indictment in three counts. The first charges a conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917, c. 30, § 3, 40 Stat. 217, 219, by causing and attempting to cause insubordination, &c., in the military and naval forces of the United States, and to obstruct the recruiting and enlistment service of the United States, when the United States was at war with the German Empire, to-wit, that the defendants willfully conspired to have printed and circulated to men who had been called and accepted for military service under the Act of May 18, 1917, a document set forth and alleged to be calculated to cause such insubordination and obstruction. The count alleges overt acts in pursuance of the conspiracy, ending in the distribution of the document set forth. The second count alleges a conspiracy to commit an offence against the United States, to-wit, to use the mails for the transmission of matter declared to be nonmailable by Title XII, § 2 of the Act of June 15, 1917, to-wit, the above mentioned document, with an averment of the same overt acts. The third count charges an unlawful use of the mails for the transmission of the same matter and otherwise as above.

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This is an indictment in thirteen counts. The first alleges a conspiracy between the plaintiff in error and one Carl Gleeser, they then being engaged in the preparation and publication of a newspaper, the Missouri Staats Zeitung, to violate the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917, c. 30, § 3, 40 Stat. 217, 219. It alleges as overt acts the preparation and circulation of twelve articles, &c. in the said newspaper at different dates from July 6, 1917, to December 7 of the same year. The other counts allege attempts to cause disloyalty, mutiny and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States, by the same publications, each count being confined to the publication of a single date. Motion to dismiss and a demurrer on constitutional and other grounds, especially that of the First Amendment as to free speech, were overruled, subject to exception, and the defendant refusing to plead the Court ordered a plea of not guilty to be filed. There was a trial and Frohwerk was found guilty on all *206 the counts except the seventh, which needs no further mention. He was sentenced to a fine and to ten years imprisonment on each count, the imprisonment on the later counts to run concurrently with that on the first.

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Eugene V. Debs was indicted on four counts under the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917, c. 30, Tit. 1, § 3, 40 Stat. 219, as amended by the Act of May 16, 1918, c. 75, § 1, 40 Stat. 553. Two counts remained for the Supreme Court to condider. The first alleged that, on or about June 16, 1918, at Canton, Ohio, the defendant caused and incited and attempted to cause and incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States and with intent so to do delivered, to an assembly of people, a public speech. The second alleged that he obstructed and attempted to obstruct the recruiting and enlistment service of the United States and to that end and with that intent delivered the same speech.

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On a single indictment, containing four counts, the five plaintiffs in error, hereinafter designated the defendants, were convicted of conspiring to violate provisions of the *617 Espionage Act of Congress (§ 3, Title I, of Act approved June 15, 1917, as amended May 16, 1918, 40 Stat. 553).

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Benjamin Gitlow was indicted in the Supreme Court of New York, with three others, for the statutory crime of criminal anarchy. New York Penal Laws, §§ 160, 161.[1] He was separately tried, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment. The judgment was affirmed by the Appellate Division and by the Court of Appeals. 195 App. Div. 773; 234 N.Y. 132 and 539. The case is here on writ of error to the Supreme Court, to which the record was remitted. 260 U.S. 703.

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Overruled

By a criminal information filed in the Superior Court of Alameda County, California, the plaintiff in error was charged, in five counts, with violations of the Criminal Syndicalism Act of that State. Statutes, 1919, c. 188, p. 281. She was tried, convicted on the first count, and sentenced to imprisonment. The judgment was affirmed by the District Court of Appeal. 57 Cal. App. 449. Her petition to have the case heard by the Supreme Court[1] was denied. Ib. 453. And the case was brought here on a writ of error which was allowed by the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, the highest court of the State in which a decision could be had. Jud. Code, § 237.

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The plaintiff in error was tried and convicted in the District Court of Rice County, Kansas, upon an information charging him with violating the Criminal Syndicalism Act of that State. Laws, Spec. Sess. 1920, c. 37. The judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the *382 State, 117 Kan. 69; and this writ of error was allowed by the Chief Justice of that court.

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The appellant claims his conviction in a state court deprived him of his liberty contrary to the guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment. He assigns as error the action of the Supreme Court of Georgia in overruling his claim and refusing him a discharge upon habeas corpus. The petition for the writ, presented to the Superior Court of Fulton County, asserted the appellant was unlawfully detained by the appellee as sheriff under the supposed authority of a judgment pronouncing him guilty of attempting to incite insurrection, as defined in § 56 of the Penal Code, and sentencing him to imprisonment *244 for not less than eighteen nor more than twenty years. Attached were copies of the judgment and the indictment and a statement of the evidence upon which the verdict and judgment were founded. The petition alleged the judgment and sentence were void and appellant's detention illegal because the statute under which he was convicted denies and illegally restrains his freedom of speech and of assembly and is too vague and indefinite to provide a sufficiently ascertainable standard of guilt, and further alleged that there had been no adjudication by any court of the constitutional validity of the statute as applied to appellant's conduct. A writ issued. The appellee answered, demurred specially to, and moved to strike, so much of the petition as incorporated the evidence taken at the trial. At the hearing the statement of the evidence was identified and was conceded by the appellee to be full and accurate. The court denied the motion to strike, overruled the special demurrer and an objection to the admission of the trial record, decided that the statute, as construed and applied in the trial of the appellant, did not infringe his liberty of speech and of assembly but ran afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment because too vague and indefinite to provide a sufficiently ascertainable standard of guilt, and ordered the prisoner's discharge from custody. The appellee took the case to the Supreme Court of Georgia, assigning as error the ruling upon his demurrer, motion, and objection, and the decision against the validity of the statute. The appellant, in accordance with the state practice, also appealed, assigning as error the decision with respect to his right of free speech and of assembly. The two appeals were separately docketed but considered in a single opinion which reversed the judgment on the appellee's appeal and affirmed on that of the appellant,[1] concluding: "Under *245 the pleadings and the evidence, which embraced the record on the trial that resulted in the conviction, the court erred, in the habeas corpus proceeding, in refusing to remand the prisoner to the custody of the officers."

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March 20, 1942, the State of Mississippi enacted a statute[1] the title of which declares that it is intended to *584 secure the peace and safety of the United States and of the State of Mississippi during war and to prohibit acts detrimental to public peace and safety. The first section, with which alone we are here concerned, provides:"That any person who individually, or as a member of any organization, association, or otherwise, shall intentionally preach, teach, or disseminate any teachings, creed, theory, or set of alleged principles, orally, or by means of a phonograph or other contrivance of any kind or nature, or by any other means or method, or by the distribution of any sort of literature, or written or printed matter, designed and calculated to encourage violence, sabotage, or disloyalty to the government of the United States, or the state of Mississippi, or who by action or speech, advocates the cause of the enemies of the United States or who gives information as to the military operations, or plans of defense or military secrets of the nation or this state, by speech, letter, map or picture which would incite any sort of racial distrust, disorder, prejudices or hatreds, or which reasonably tends to create an attitude of stubborn refusal to salute, honor or respect the flag or government of the United States, or of the state of Mississippi, shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment in the state penitentiary until treaty of peace be declared by the United States but such imprisonment shall not exceed ten years."At the June 1942 term of the Madison County Circuit Court, Taylor, the appellant in No. 826, was indicted for orally disseminating teachings designed and calculated to encourage disloyalty to the government of the United States and that of the State of Mississippi; and for orally disseminating teachings and distributing literature and printed matter reasonably tending to create an attitude of stubborn refusal to salute, honor, and respect the flag and government of the United States and of the State of *585 Mississippi, and designed and calculated to encourage disloyalty to the government of the United States.

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Petitioner after jury trial was found guilty of disorderly conduct in violation of a city ordinance of Chicago and fined. The case grew out of an address he delivered in an auditorium in Chicago under the auspices of the Christian Veterans of America. The meeting commanded considerable public attention. The auditorium was filled to capacity with over eight hundred persons present. Others were turned away. Outside of the auditorium a crowd o about one thousand persons gathered to protest against the meeting. A cordon of policemen was assigned to the meeting to maintain order; but they were not able to prevent several disturbances. The crowd outside was angry and turbulent. Petitioner in his speech condemned the conduct of the crowd outside and vigorously, if not viciously, criticized various political and racial groups whose activities he denounced as inimical to the nation's welfare.

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Petitioner made an inflammatory speech to a mixed crowd of 75 or 80 black and white people on a city street. He made derogatory remarks about President Truman, the American Legion, and local political officials, endeavored to arouse the black people against the white people, and urged that the black people rise up in arms and fight for equal rights. The crowd, which blocked the sidewalk and overflowed into the street, became restless; its feelings for and against the speaker were rising, and there was at least one threat of violence. After observing the situation for some time without interference, police officers, in order to prevent a fight, thrice requested petitioner to get off the box and stop speaking. After his third refusal, and after he had been speaking over 30 minutes, they arrested him, and he was convicted of violating § 722 of the Penal Code of New York, which, in effect, forbids incitement of a breach of the peace.

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341 U.S. 494 (1951) DENNIS ET AL. v. UNITED STATES.   No. 336. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued December 4, 1950. Decided June 4, 1951. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.*495 George W. Crockett, Jr., Abraham J. Isserman and Harry Sacher argued the cause for petitioners. With them on the brief was Richard Gladstein. Solicitor General Perlman and Irving S. Shapiro argued the cause for the United States. With them on the brief were Attorney General McGrath, Assistant Attorney General McInerney, Irving H. Saypol, Robert W. Ginnane, Frank H. Gordon, Edward C. […]

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Overruled (in part)

We brought these cases here to consider certain questions arising under the Smith Act which have not heretofore been passed upon by this Court, and otherwise to review the convictions of these petitioners for conspiracy to violate that Act. Among other things, the convictions are claimed to rest upon an application of the Smith Act which is hostile to the principles upon which its constitutionality was upheld in Dennis v. United States, 341 U. S. 494.

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The appellants are honorably discharged veterans of World War II who claimed the veterans' property-tax *515 exemption provided by Art. XIII, § 1 1/4, of the California Constitution. Under California law applicants for such exemption must annually complete a standard form of application and file it with the local assessor. The form was revised in 1954 to add an oath by the applicant: "I do not advocate the overthrow of the Government of the United States or of the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means, nor advocate the support of a foreign government against the United States in event of hostilities." Each refused to subscribe the oath and struck it from the form which he executed and filed for the tax year 1954-1955. Each contended that the exaction of the oath as a condition of obtaining a tax exemption was forbidden by the Federal Constitution. The respective assessors denied the exemption solely for the refusal to execute the oath. The Supreme Court of California sustained the assessors' actions against the appellants' claims of constitutional invalidity.[1] We noted probable jurisdiction of the appeals. 355 U. S. 880.

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Our writ issued in this case (358 U. S. 917) to review a judgment of the Court of Appeals (260 F. 2d 21) affirming petitioner's conviction under the so-called membership clause of the Smith Act. 18 U. S. C. § 2385. The Act, among other things, makes a felony the acquisition or holding of knowing membership in any organization which advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force or violence.[1] The indictment charged that from January 1946 to the date of its filing (November 18, 1954) the Communist Party of the United States was such an organization, and that petitioner *206 throughout that period was a member thereof, with knowledge of the Party's illegal purpose and a specific intent to accomplish overthrow "as speedily as circumstances would permit."

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This case, like No. 1, Scales v. United States, ante, p. 203, was brought here to test the validity of a conviction under the membership clause of the Smith Act. 361 U. S. 813. The case comes to us from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which affirmed petitioner's conviction in the District Court for the Western District of New York, after a jury trial. 262 F. 2d 501.

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395 U.S. 444 (1969) BRANDENBURG v. OHIO.         No. 492. Supreme Court of United States.    Argued February 27, 1969. Decided June 9, 1969. APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO.Allen Brown argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Norman Dorsen, Melvin L. Wulf, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Bernard A. Berkman.Leonard Kirschner argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief was Melvin G. Rueger.Paul W. Brown, Attorney General of Ohio, pro se, and Leo J. Conway, Assistant Attorney General, filed a brief for the Attorney General as amicus curiae.PER CURIAM. The […]

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Appellant, who was arrested during an anti-war demonstration on a college campus for loudly stating, "We'll take the fucking street later (or again)," was subsequently convicted for violating the Indiana disorderly conduct statute. The State Supreme Court affirmed, relying primarily on the trial court's finding that the statement "was intended to incite further lawless action on the part of the crowd in the vicinity of appellant, and was likely to produce such action."

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It is a federal crime to “knowingly provid[e] material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.” 18 U. S. C. §2339B(a)(1). The authority to designate an entity a “foreign terrorist organization” rests with the Secretary of State, and is subject to judicial review. Among the entities the Secretary of State has designated “foreign terrorist organization[s]” are the Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan (PKK) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which aim to establish independent states for, respectively, Kurds in Turkey and Tamils in Sri Lanka. Although both groups engage in political and humanitarian activities, each has also committed numerous terrorist attacks, some of which have harmed American citizens. Claiming they wish to support those groups’ lawful, nonviolent activities, two U. S. citizens and six domestic organizations (hereinafter plaintiffs) initiated this constitutional challenge to the material-support statute. Plaintiffs challenge §2339B’s prohibition on providing four types of material support—“training,” “expert advice or assistance,” “service,” and “personnel”—asserting violations of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause on the ground that the statutory terms are impermissibly vague, and violations of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.

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