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Abrams v. United States

United States Supreme Court
250 U.S. 616 (1919)



Abrams and four others (plaintiffs) were convicted of conspiring to violate the Espionage Act of 1917 (EA), as amended in 1918. Abrams printed many copies of leaflets, written both in English and Yiddish, denouncing the United States’ decision to send troops to Russia as part of World War I. Other leaflets denounced the United States’ general involvement in World War I and United States’ efforts to curtail the Russian Revolution. The distribution of these leaflets was found unlawful by the federal district court because it involved the spreading of language meant to incite resistance to the war effort and to urge the curtailment of production of essential war materials. Abrams challenged his convictions on the grounds that the EA was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Clarke, J.)

Dissent (Holmes, J.)

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