1st Amendment and Free Speech/Questions

Advertisement


Question
1. Did you agree with the Espionage Act of 1919?

2. How did you feel about the outcome of the Schenk vs. US case?

3. Do you think that American's right to free speech should be limited at any time?

Answer
Hello,

I'm assuming you mean the Espionage Act of 1917 as there was none passed in 1919.  Generally the Act prohibits passing along secret information to the nation's enemies.  That is relatively uncontroversial.  Other parts of the Act, however, made it illegal to cause disloyalty or disrupt recruitment.  This made it illegal, for example, to oppose the draft by speaking out against it.  It generally allowed government to censor protest, which violates the First Amendment.  The Sedition Act of 1918 which amended the Espionage Act went even further in suppressing free speech.  Because of those extremes, I do not agree with the Act.

The Schenck case is a shameful decision by the Supreme Court.  It essentially held that people could not protest a controversial draft law as the protests might interfere with the draft.  This created a major exception to First Amendment rights of protest which is dangerous to democracy.

Free speech is a very broad concept.  Most controversial cases involve a mix of speech and action.  So there have to be some limits to actions that may have a speech component.  But generally speaking, I don't think the government should be able to suppress or punish the expression of an opinion, idea, or facts by any of its people.  An assault on free speech is an assault on democracy itself.  Government attempts to control speech in order to manipulate public opinion or compel desired behavior is a form of tyranny.

- Mike

1st Amendment and Free Speech

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Michael Troy

Expertise

I will answer general questions regarding freedom of speech, petition, or religion. My specialty is in cases involving public employment or education, as well as issues related to campaign finance. I can`t give specific legal advice involving specific cases you might have.

Experience

As an attorney for the Center for Individual Rights, I worked on a number of free speech cases, including Rosenberger v. Univ. of Virginia, in which the Supreme Court upheld my clients' right to run a student newspaper without discrimination because of its religious content. I also worked on White v. Julian, which protected the right of people to protest against a homeless shelter in their neighborhood.

I also worked for the Federal Election Commission on several cases regarding the right to participate in the election process and engage in campaign related speech.

Organizations
Former Attorney for Center for Individual Rights.

Publications
Washington Post
Washington Times

Education/Credentials
J.D. from Univ. of Michigan Law School

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.