Abrams v. U.S

Abrams v. United States

Facts of the Case:

The defendants were convicted for two pamphlets that they distributed via the windows of a building. One of the pamphlets spoke out against sending American soldiers to Russia. The second pamphlet was written Yiddish and spoke out against American attempts to hinder the Russian Revolution. As of result of these actions, the defendants were convicted for stirring resistance to the war effort and were sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Do the amendments to the Espionage Act or the application of those amendments in this case violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment?


In the United States Supreme Court, it was found that the answer to the question was no on both accounts. The majority thought that the Espionage Act’s amendments were constitutional and so the defendants’ conviction still stood. Most of the justices agreed that the pamphlets increased the penchant of a violent revolution and resistance to the war effort in Europe. Justices Holmes and Brandeis dissented that the necessary intent had not been shown.

The results of this case would later be overturned in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1968). Here the court adopted the "incitement to imminent lawless action" standard. As it turns out, this test was even more speech protective than "clear and present danger."

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