Congress passed the Smith Act (SA) that made it a crime to knowingly engage in a conspiracy to teach about and advocate the overthrow or destruction of the United States Government. Dennis and other leaders of the Communist Party of America (defendants) were arrested and charged with violating the SA by willingly and knowingly conspiring with the organization of the Communist Party and by knowingly and willfully advocating the necessity of overthrowing and destroying the government of the United States by force and violence. Dennis challenged their convictions against the United States Government (plaintiff) in federal district court on the grounds that the SA violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. The convictions were sustained and the court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.