Majority Opinions Authored by Justice John Clarke

Russian immigrants protesting recent U.S. military action in Russia were convicted for two leaflets thrown from a New York City window that called for a strike at U.S. ammunitions plants. Congress had declared in the Espionage Act that such propaganda would harm the war effort, and the Supreme Court had previously upheld the Espionage Act as constitutional in Schenck v. United States (1919).

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The appellant, doing business in the name of "Organo Product Company," in his bill prayed for an injunction restraining the Postmaster at Chicago from giving effect to a "fraud order" against him, issued by the Postmaster General on August 15, 1919, pursuant to authority of Rev. Stats., § 3929 and § 4041. The order was in the usual form, prohibiting the delivery of mail or payment of money orders to appellant, and directing the disposition of mail which should be addressed to him. The District Court, refusing the injunction, dismissed the bill, and the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed its decree. Leach v. Carlisle, 267 Fed. 61.

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After a hearing on September 22, 1917, by the Third Assistant Postmaster General, of the time and character of which the relator (plaintiff in error) had due notice and at which it was represented by its president, an order was entered, revoking the second-class mail privilege granted to it in 1911 as publisher of the Milwaukee Leader. So far as appears, all that the relator desired to say or offer was heard and received. This hearing was had and *409 the order was entered upon the charge that articles were appearing in relator's paper so violating the provisions of the National Defense Law, approved June 15, 1917, which has come to be popularly known as the Espionage Act of Congress (c. 30, 40 Stat. 217), as to render it "non-mailable" by the express terms of Title XII of that act. On appeal to the Postmaster General the order was approved. Thereupon the relator filed a petition in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, praying that a writ of mandamus issue, commanding the Postmaster General to annul his order and restore the paper to the second-class privilege. To a rule to show cause the Postmaster General answered, and a demurrer to his answer being overruled and the relator not pleading further, the court discharged the rule and dismissed the petition. The Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia affirmed the judgment of the trial court, and the constitutional validity of laws of the United States being involved the case was brought here by writ of error.

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