November 10, 1919: In the US Supreme Court case Abrams v. United States, the Court upheld the Espionage Act of 1917 aka the Sedition Act. The law made it a criminal offense to utter speech that tended to curtail production of war materials or tended to cause resistance to the US war effort in World War I.
The Defendants’ Hyman Rosansky, Jacob Abrams, Hyman Lachowsky, Samuel Lipman, and Mollie Steimer were convicted for throwing two leaflets they printed from windows of a NYC building that denounced sending American Troops to Russia and called for the U.S. to cease production of weapons.
The Defendants’ appealed to the United States Supreme Court which upheld their convictions holding that criticism of U.S. involvement in World War I was not protected by the First Amendment, because their speech advocated a strike in munitions production and the violent overthrow of the government. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes dissenting opinion, countered that even during wartime, free speech could only be curtailed when there was clear and “present danger of immediate evil or an intent to bring it about.”