October 2nd, 2008


October Challenge--Day 2: Supreme Court Meme

As was demonstrated in an interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin is unable to name any Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade.

The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic, to your LJ. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade.) For those who see this on your f-list, take the meme to your OWN LJ to spread the fun.

Schenck v. U. S.. First one that came to mind. This was the decision that put certain restraints on the right to free speech--restraints that probably wouldn't have been imposed in this day and age, but are still out there in legal precedent.

"The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."

The most infamous (albeit misquoted) example being:

"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic."

The case involved a man who was handing out anti-draft leaflets during World War I. He was tried, convicted and jailed, and in this decision, his conviction was upheld.

I agree with the principle of the decision--that free speech rights do have boundaries when there is a genuine threat of harm. I think the decision that promulgated these notions was a bad one--leaflets are not a 'clear and present danger' to society, even in wartime. Subsequent decisions seem to have acknowledged this and stretched these boundaries a bit to accommodate more radical notions. But the decision still stands, some eighty-nine years later, and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere.

Today I took pleasure in letting out my inner Supreme Court geek. (I blame Mr. Morgan for this.)

Today I learned what one of my firm's more . . . infamous clients actually looks like.
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