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DOUGLAS, J., dissenting.

the peril of speech must be clear and present, leaving no room for argument, raising no doubts as to the necessity of curbing speech in order to prevent disaster.


The First Amendment is couched in absolute termsfreedom of speech shall not be abridged. Speech has therefore a preferred position 1 as contrasted to some other civil rights. For example, privacy, equally sacred to some, is protected by the Fourth Amendment only against unreasonable searches and seizures. There is room for regulation of the ways and means of invading privacy. No such leeway is granted the invasion of the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Until recent years that had been the course and direction of constitutional law. Yet recently the Court in this and in other cases has engrafted the right of regulation onto the First Amendment by placing in the hands of the legislative branch the right to regulate "within reasonable limits" the right of free speech. This to me is an ominous and alarming trend. The free trade in ideas which the Framers of the Constitution visualized disappears. In its place there is substituted a new orthodoxy-an orthodoxy that changes with the whims of the age or the day, an orthodoxy which the majority by solemn judgment proclaims to be essential to the safety, welfare, security, morality, or health of society. Free speech in the constitutional sense disappears. Limits are drawn-limits dictated by expediency, political opinion, prejudices or some other desideratum of legislative action.

An historic aspect of the issue of judicial supremacy was the extent to which legislative judgment would be

1 Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U. S. 105, 115; Thomas v. Collins, 323 U. S. 516, 530; Saia v. New York, 334 U. S. 558, 561.

2 Dennis v. United States, 341 U. S. 494; Feiner v. New York, 340 U. S. 315. Cf. Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U. S. 622; American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 U. S. 382; Osman v. Douds, 339 U. S. 846.

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343 U.S.

supreme in the field of social legislation. The vague contours of the Due Process Clause were used to strike down laws deemed by the Court to be unwise and improvident.3 That trend has been reversed. In matters relating to business, finance, industrial and labor conditions, health and the public welfare, great leeway is now granted the legislature, for there is no guarantee in the Constitution that the status quo will be preserved against regulation by government. Freedom of speech, however, rests on a different constitutional basis. The First Amendment says that freedom of speech, freedom of press, and the free exercise of religion shall not be abridged. That is a negation of power on the part of each and every department of government. Free speech, free press, free exercise of religion are placed separate and apart; they are above and beyond the police power; they are not subject to regulation in the manner of factories, slums, apartment houses, production of oil, and the like.

The Court in this and in other cases places speech under an expanding legislative control. Today a white man stands convicted for protesting in unseemly language against our decisions invalidating restrictive covenants. Tomorrow a Negro will be haled before a court for denouncing lynch law in heated terms. Farm laborers in the West who compete with field hands drifting up from Mexico; whites who feel the pressure of orientals; a minority which finds employment going to members of the dominant religious group-all of these are caught in the mesh of today's decision. Debate and argument even in the courtroom are not always calm and dispassionate. Emotions sway speakers and audiences alike. Intem

3 Lochner v. New York, 198 U. S. 45; Coppage v. Kansas, 236 U. S. 1; Ribnik v. McBride, 277 U. S. 350.

4 Nebbia v. New York, 291 U. S. 502; West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U. S. 379; Lincoln Union v. Northwestern Co., 335 U. S. 525; Day-Brite Lighting, Inc. v. Missouri, 342 U. S. 421.


JACKSON, J., dissenting.


perate speech is a distinctive characteristic of man. heads blow off and release destructive energy in the process. They shout and rave, exaggerating weaknesses, magnifying error, viewing with alarm. So it has been from the beginning; and so it will be throughout time. The Framers of the Constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They too had lived in dangerous days; they too knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty. That should be our choice today no matter how distasteful to us the pamphlet of Beauharnais may be. It is true that this is only one decision which may later be distinguished or confined to narrow limits. But it represents a philosophy at war with the First Amendment-a constitutional interpretation which puts free speech under the legislative thumb. It reflects an influence moving ever deeper into our society. It is notice to the legislatures that they have the power to control unpopular blocs. It is a warning to every minority that when the Constitution guarantees free speech it does not mean what it says.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, dissenting.

An Illinois Act, construed by its Supreme Court to be a "group libel" statute, has been used to punish criminally the author and distributor of an obnoxious leaflet attacking the Negro race. He answers that, as applied, the Act denies a liberty secured to him by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. What is the liberty which that clause underwrites?

The spectrum of views expressed by my seniors shows that disagreement as to the scope and effect of this Amendment underlies this, as it has many another, division of the Court. All agree that the Fourteenth Amendment does confine the power of the State to make printed

JACKSON, J., dissenting.

343 U.S.

words criminal. Whence we are to derive metes and bounds of the state power is a subject to the confusion of which, I regret to say, I have contributed-comforted in the acknowledgment, however, by recalling that this Amendment is so enigmatic and abstruse that judges more experienced than I have had to reverse themselves as to its effect on state power.

The assumption of other dissents is that the "liberty" which the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects against denial by the States is the literal and identical "freedom of speech or of the press" which the First Amendment forbids only Congress to abridge. The history of criminal libel in America convinces me that the Fourteenth Amendment did not "incorporate" the First, that the powers of Congress and of the States over this subject are not of the same dimensions, and that because Congress probably could not enact this law it does not follow that the States may not.


As a limitation upon power to punish written or spoken words, Fourteenth Amendment "liberty" in its context of state powers and functions has meant and should mean something quite different from "freedom" in its context of federal powers and functions.1

This Court has never sustained a federal criminal libel Act. One section of the Sedition Act of 1798 was close to being a "group libel" Act." While there were convictions

1 First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . . ." Fourteenth Amendment: ". . . nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . .”

21 Stat. 596 (1798) § 2: “And be it further enacted, That if any person shall write, print, utter or publish . . . any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States,


JACKSON, J., dissenting.

under it, no attack on its validity reached this Court. I think today's better opinion regards the enactment as a breach of the First Amendment and certainly Mr. Justice Holmes and Mr. Justice Brandeis thought so.3 But even in the absence of judicial condemnation, the political disapproval of the Sedition Act was so emphatic and sustained that federal prosecution of the press ceased for a century. It was resumed with indictment of The Indianapolis News and The New York World for disclosures and criticisms of the Panama Canal acquisition. Both were indicted in the District of Columbia and under the District Code, on the ground that some copies circulated there. That prosecution collapsed when Judge Anderson refused the Government's application to remove the Indiana defendants to the District of Columbia for trial.1

The World, circulated at West Point, was indicted in New York on the theory that an 1825 Act to pro

or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute. . . such person . . shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years." Section 3: ". it shall be lawful for the defendant . . . to give in evidence in his defence, the truth of the matter contained in the publication charged as a libel. And the jury who shall try the cause, shall have a right to determine the law and the fact, under the direction of the court, as in other cases."

3 Abrams v. United States, 250 U. S. 616, 630.

United States v. Smith, 173 F. 227. In discharging the defendants, Judge Anderson said:

"To my mind that man has read the history of our institutions to little purpose who does not look with grave apprehension upon the possibility of the success of a proceeding such as this. If the history of liberty means anything, if constitutional guaranties are worth anything, this proceeding must fail.

"If the prosecuting officers have the authority to select the tribunal, if there be more than one tribunal to select from, if the

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