Schenck v. United States: The Background
The case of Schenck v. United States took place in the year of 1919. This groundbreaking trial started with a man named Charles Schenck who was arrested for organizing a protest against the military draft undertaken by the Federal Government. The Government held the draft for World War I; random male citizens who were of age were selected to fight for the country in this enormous war. Charles Schenck, who was a member of the Socialist Party, distributed over 20,000 pamphlets to United States citizen to form a protest of the draft process. Schenck felt that the draft was a form of slavery and should be outlawed by a free country.
During his organized protest; however, Schenck was arrested on the grounds that he was in direct violation of the Espionage Act. This law, which was passed in 1917, required that any protest or form of anti-government speech must be in line with the United States’ ability to protect the wellbeing of its citizens. The Federal Government believes that a person trying to spark a violent movement or cause uproar is in violation of the Espionage Act. As a result, Mr. Charles Schenck was arrested for his efforts in forming mass protests against the draft.
Schenck v. United States: The Case Profile
The case of Schenck v. United States took place from January 9th 1919 to January 10th. Schenck, who was found guilty in the original trial, appealed the charges by claiming the U.S. had sparked slave-like laws. Schenck pointed to the 13th Amendment as his main support; this Amendment outlawed slavery and forced service. Schenck stated that a military draft and forced enlistment may be classified as a measure of slavery.
In addition to the provisions of the 13th Amendment, Charles Schenck also claimed that the government is not allowed to censor his writings. He believed that by censoring his works, the Government was violating his civil liberties of free speech and free expression which are both guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
The Schenck v. United States case was decided on March 3rd of 1919. Although the original case found Schenck guilty, he appealed the charges and brought the Schenck v. United States case to the United States Supreme Court.
Schenck v. United States: The Verdict
In Schenck v. United States, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government. The court distinguished between dangerous expressions and dangerous acts, stating that the sentiments expressed in Schenck’s writings were considered to be an immediate threat to the country’s safety and the wellbeing of its people.