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Schenck V. United States: A Federal Crime

1938 words - 8 pages

Do you know that notifying your fellow Americans of their constitutional rights was a Federal crime? Well it was during World War One (WWI). In the case Schenck v. the United States, schenck tried to remind his fellow Americans of their constitutional rights and also let them know that the draft was being used as a form of militarized slavery. This case contained men who his right was taken away after he tried to get the military draftees to fight against the draft. However Congress took his right of speech away when it was arrested and convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. This was the time the WWI one had broken out, the government need men to fight. They were short staffed for that to work and they need man to fight this war so the military started selecting citizen randomly to draft. Schenck fought against this draft saying this in a way it was like slavery.
When the United States entered WWI in 1917, Congress passed a law called the Espionage Act. The law stated that during wartime obstructing the draft and trying to make soldiers disloyal or disobedient were crimes against the United States (Schenck v. United States). Almost 2,000 people broke this law; they were accused of violating this law and were put on trial. Charles Schenck was one of them; he was against the war, and was the general secretary of the Socialist Party of America. He believed that the war had been caused by and would benefit only the rich, while causing suffering and death for the thousands of poor and working-class soldiers who would do the actual fighting in Europe. He mailed thousands of pamphlets to men who had been drafted into the armed forces. The government looked at this as a threat to the country and also to the people. These pamphlets said that the government had no right to send American citizens to other countries to kill people.
The Supreme Court's decision was written by Justice Oliver Wendell-Holmes. It upheld Schenck's conviction, saying that it did not violate his First Amendment right to free speech. Although the case was upheld on the caption that he used his free speech as a way to get people to signing a petition to stop congress’s draft, it was controversial because it violated his right of free speech his right of speech it granted by the constitution. Assuming that in many places and in ordinary times Schenck would have had a right to say everything that he said in his pamphlets, his speech would have been protected at the time, however the nation was involved in a war and the government had to take precautions it declared necessary to protect going to the military. It seems the Holmes quoted the famous falsely the most stringent protection of free speech he said, would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic (Schenck v. United States. Baer v. Same). It seems that he was arguing that Schenck was trying to cause a nation panic. Will the question in every case is whether the words are used...

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