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Frohwerk v. United States

United States Supreme Court
249 U.S. 204 (1919)


Facts

Two months after the United States’ entry into World War I, Congress enacted the Espionage Act of 1917 (EA). The law made it a crime for any person during time of war, to “willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or the naval forces of the United States.” In 1915, the Missouri Staats Zeiung, a newspaper published in Kansas City, Missouri, issued a series of twelve articles written by Jacob Frohwerk (defendant) denouncing the United States’ involvement in World War I. Frohwerk was indicted by the United States government (plaintiff) in federal district court for thirteen counts of violating the EA based on his involvement with the newspaper. At trial, Frohwerk was convicted of all but one count, and was fined and imprisoned. Frohwerk challenged his conviction on the grounds that the EA violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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