How did Schenck v. the United States change the rights of U.S citizens?

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
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    It severely--and unreasonably, and stupidly--limited the Freedom of Speech provisions of the Bill of Rights which are, arguably, the essence of what distinguished America from all the authoritarian nations that had preceded it.

    So much fior the much vaunted wisdom of Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the hypocrite who said he was guided by his lofty conviction that "we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death." Yah. Sure, Ollie. Whatever.

    But the U.S. was a craven and hysterical and very reactionary nation in those early years of the twentieth century. And freedom of speech was not merely prohibited on political grounds, but on "moral" grounds as well.

    Around the same time that Holmes ruled on the Schenck case, the hideously tyrannical Postmaster General Anthony Comstock bragged that he had in the late nineteenth century used his office to destroy 160 tons of "obscene material" (a lot of it was educational stuff about birth control) and sent 3,600 "pornographers" to prison.

    And this was also the rime of the rise of another Postmaster General named William Hayes, a puritanical hayseed who pledged that "I am not and will not allow myself to be made a censor." But a few years later he was in fact the official in charge of censoring the American movie industry. And to such an extent that he was outraged by tihe "suggestiveness" of Mae West saying things like "Come up and see me sometime."

  • 9 years ago

    It gave the federal government the power to silence voices using the excuse of "clear and present danger". Fortunately it has not been used since World War 2.

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