What was the supreme court’s ruling in Schenk v. the United States?
- 9 years agoBest Answer
The Court found that the First Amendment did not apply in this case, and that Schenck’s speech was not constitutionally protected because it posed a “clear and present danger” to the country
- 9 years ago
The court's decision
The Court, in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., held that Schenck's criminal conviction was constitutional. The First Amendment did not protect speech encouraging insubordination, since, "when a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right." In other words, the court held, the circumstances of wartime permit greater restrictions on free speech than would be allowable during peacetime.
In the opinion's most famous passage, Justice Holmes sets out the "clear and present danger" test:
"The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."
This case is also the source of the phrase "shouting fire in a crowded theater", paraphrased from Holmes' assertion that "the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic."
As a result of the 9-0 decision, Charles Schenck spent six months in prison.
- Joshua NLv 69 years ago
Background: Charles Schenk was the Secretary of the Socialist Party and was distributing anti-military draft pamphlets, encouraging people to refuse to serve as a result of the draft on the grounds of the 13th Amendment. He was arrested under the Espionage Act of 1917. Charles Schenk appealed the case on freedom of speech as protected under the 1st Amendment.
Ruling: In an unanimous decision, they determined that speech that presents a "clear and present danger" is not protected under the 1st Amendment. They determined that this was a "clear and present danger." This is where the "shouting fire in a crowded theater" exemption to free speech comes from.
Partially overruled: Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) determined that a speech is protected unless if the speech falls under the imminent lawless action test. First, unprotected speech must be intended to incite a crime that is imminent. Therefore, one can not be arrested merely for advocating a crime in the indefinite future. Also, it must be likely to happen. For instance, if one incites treason among friends with no weapons, it doesn't meet the likely test.