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Fiske v. Kansas
United States Supreme Court
274 U.S. 380 (1927)
The state of Kansas (plaintiff) convicted Fiske (defendant) of violating the Kansas Criminal Syndicalism Act, which made it a felony to advocate crime or physical violence, by word of mouth or printed materials, as a means of accomplishing industrial or political revolution. Fiske was charged by information with inducing people to apply for membership in the Industrial Workers’ Union knowing that this organization, as stated in the preamble to its constitution, advocated class struggle and an end to the system of wage labor. The trial court denied Fiske’s motion to quash the information. At trial, the state introduced no other evidence than the organization’s preamble. Fiske testified that he belonged to the organization, but neither the organization, nor its constitution, nor Fiske as one of its members advocated industrial control by violent or criminal means. Fiske was convicted. The trial court denied Fiske’s motions to stay execution of the judgment and for a new trial based on insufficiency of the evidence. Fiske appealed, alleging denial of free speech and due process under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the organization’s preamble, when read in its entirety, did affirmatively advocate physical violence as a means of accomplishing industrial or political revolution, which is unprotected speech. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sanford, J.)
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