On This Date in Legal History

On today’s date in 1919 the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the cases Schenck v. United States and Baer v. United States.  The cases involved Schenck and Baer, members of the Socialist party, who were responsible for distributing literature that urged men to avoid military service at a time the U.S. was at war with Germany.  They were found guilty of  committing crimes under the Espionage Act, so they appealed their cases up to the Supreme Court.  They claimed their speech was protected by the 1st Amendment. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s decision. The Supreme Court’s often quoted reasoning was—“”[t]he most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” Justice Holmes further explained—“[w]hen 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….” Since 1919, however, the Court has interpreted the First Amendment more broadly.

About Tina Nelson
Tina Nelson

Tina Nelson is an attorney and mom. She created the LAWSUIT™ board game to teach her three children about the law. The game was an instant success. Copyrights and a patent were obtained, and Professional Games, Inc. was born. Professional Games, Inc. created this blog to educate and keep its friends and customers regularly updated about our American legal system.
This entry was posted in History/Social Studies Common Core Curriculum, On This Date and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.