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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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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This case is here to review the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirming an order of the Subversive Activities Control Board that petitioner register with the Attorney General as a "Communist-action" organization, as required by the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, Title I of the Internal Security Act of 1950, 64 Stat. 987. That Act sets forth a comprehensive plan for regulation of "Communist-action" organizations.[1] Section 2 of the Act describes a *117 world Communist movement directed from abroad and designed to overthrow the Government of the United States by any means available, including violence. Section 7 requires all Communist-action organizations to register as such with the Attorney General. If the Attorney General has reason to believe that an organization, which has not registered, is a Communist-action organization, he is required by § 13 (a) to bring a proceeding to determine that fact before the Subversive Activities Control Board, a five-man board appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate and created for the purpose of holding hearings and making such determinations. Section 13 (e) lays down certain standards for judgment by the Board.

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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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Petitioners were indicted in 1956 under 18 U.S.C. § 371 for conspiring fraudulently to obtain the services of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on behalf of the union of which they were officers or members by filing false affidavits in purported satisfaction of the requirements of § 9(h) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended. Section 9(h), later repealed, provided that a union could not secure NLRB services unless it had filed with the NLRB so-called non-Communist affidavits of each union officer. The Government alleged that, pursuant to a conspiracy, four of the petitioners, union officials who purported to resign from the Communist Party but in reality retained their Party affiliations, filed the required affidavits during 1949-1955, enabling the union to use the NLRB. Petitioners were convicted, but the Court of Appeals, while sustaining the indictment, reversed on the ground that prejudicial hearsay evidence had been admitted. On retrial, petitioners were again convicted, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Certiorari was granted, limited to the following questions: whether the indictment stated the offense of conspiracy to defraud the United States; whether § 9(h) is constitutional; and whether the trial court erred in denying petitioners' motion for production to the defense of grand jury testimony of prosecution witnesses, or alternatively, for in camera inspection of the grand jury testimony.

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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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