So to Speak podcast: The 100th anniversary of the Espionage Act of 1917

June 29, 2017

It was 100 years ago this month that the Espionage Act of 1917 was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, making it a crime to interfere with the operations of the United States military.

During its lifetime, the act has had a troubled history with the First Amendment. It has been used to criminalize wartime dissent, restrict press freedom, and prosecute government whistleblowers.

On today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, we speak with University of Washington School of Law scholar Ronald Collins about the Espionage Act and its continuing relevance to civil liberties advocates. We also venture into a slightly unrelated discussion of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case In re Anastaplo (1961), which reveals the sort of risks that accompany standing up for one’s rights during times of uncertainty.

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An illustrated timeline of the full history of the Alien, Sedition, Espionage, and related acts can be found at FIRE’s First Amendment Library.

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