2. Facts of the Case:
a. The Smith Act made it a criminal offense to knowingly or willfully advocate the overthrowing of any government in the United States by force or to attempt to commit or conspire to commit the crime the same. The Petitioners were brought up on charges under the Act for allegedly willfully and knowingly conspiring to organize as the Communist Party of the United States, a group whose members advocated the overthrow of the United States government by force and, willfully and knowingly advocating and teaching the duty to do the same. It was clear from the record that the leaders of the Communist Party intended to initiate a revolution when the …show more content…
Chief Justice Fred Vinson, “We must apply the “clear and present danger” test”. Therefore, we note that the overthrow of the Government by force is certainly a substantial enough interest for the Government to limit speech. Obviously, “clear and present danger” does not mean the government may not act until the Putsch has been plotted and on is the verge of being executed. On the facts, the court was convinced that the requisite danger to act existed here: the formation by the Petitioners of a highly organized conspiracy with rigidly disciplined members subject to call when the leaders, the Petitioners, felt it was time for action; the inflammable nature of world conditions; similar uprisings in other countries; and lastly, the touch and go nature of our relations with other countries with whom the Petitioners were ideologically aligned. Thus, the convictions of the Petitioners were …show more content…
The Smith Act does not inherently violate the First Amendment and other provisions of the Bill of Rights, or the First and Fifth Amendments because of indefiniteness. Petitioners intended to overthrow the Government of the United States as speedily as the circumstances would permit. Their conspiracy to organize the Communist Party and to teach and advocate the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force and violence created a "clear and present danger" of an attempt to overthrow the Government by force and violence. They were properly and constitutionally convicted for violation of the Smith Act.
1. Separate Opinions:
a. JUSTICE HUGO BLACK, dissenting; While it is true that unfettered communication of ideas does entail danger, the benefits in the eyes of the Founders of this Nation, derived from free expression were worth the risk.
b. JUSTICE WILLIAM DOUGLAS, concurring; If this were a case where the speaker was teaching techniques of sabotage, the assassination of the President, or the planting of bombs, I would concur in the judgment. But, the reality is that no such evidence was introduced at