Yates V. United States

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Foster Zinn
Team History
4/4/2013
The Constitutionality of Yates v. United States
The case Yates v. United States was asking if the Smith Act was a violation of the First Amendment. Fourteen leaders of the Communist Party were sent to court for violating the Smith act. Yates argued that he was protected by the First Amendment. The Smith act was made to set criminal penalties for planning the overthrow of the government. The dissent was Yates had the protection of the First Amendment. The outcome of Yates v. United States was not constitutional because the Supreme Court had already ruled the Smith Act did not violate the First Amendment. In an earlier case Dennis v. United States the Supreme Court concluded that there was a distinction between the mere teaching of communist philosophies and active advocacy of those ideas. Because of this the Smith Act was upheld and the act did not violate the First Amendment. In another case Brandenburg v. Ohio the Supreme Court ruled that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is directed to inciting, and is likely to incite, imminent lawless action. Imminent lawless action is for defining the limits of free speech and imminent lawless action is the precedent used today. During the time Yates v. United States the United States was in the Cold War with the USSR and the Vietnam War started by communism. There has been proof by the FBI that the Communist Party in America has been passing information of the American government to other countries. Documents have been found showing the passing of information of the nuclear bomb from Los Alamos to the USSR. Other documents have shown the infiltration of the department of state. The Communist Party was a threat to the United States. There is clear proof of Yates advocating the overthrow of the government and his words were a threat or a form imminent lawless action. Because Yates words were a form of imminent lawless action the Smith Act does not violate...
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