Schenck v. United States (249 U.S. 47, 1919)
You may not recognize this court case by name, but chances are, you’ve heard of it. In an attempt to define what was and wasn’t allowed as free speech during time of war, this case ended up establishing the “clear and present danger” clause, stating that
“…expressions which in the circumstances were intended to result in a crime, and posed a “clear and present danger” of succeeding, could be punished.”
This is also the case from which we get the idea about not being able to shout fire in a crowded theater.
- “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. […] 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.”
Today, Donald Trump insinuated at a public rally that the only people who could keep Hillary Clinton from appointing future Supreme Court Justices were those who used their Second Amendment Rights. Hearing this kind of language coming from this man is terrifying. He has called for and supported violence at his gatherings. A statement like this from him is truly dangerous.
At what point does freedom of speech intrude upon freedom of liberty? If your words are calling for physical harm upon me, whose rights win out? And is there going to be a moment when we draw a line in the sand, if not based on federal law, then at least based on human decency, as to what we will allow representatives of our nation to spew out of their mouths? I am ashamed that the world is watching this.
11 let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.