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Lyon’s Case

United States Circuit Court for the District of Vermont
15 F. Cas. 1183 (1798)


Facts

Matthew Lyon (defendant) was a Democratic-Republican congressman from Vermont. The federal government (plaintiff) charged Lyon with three counts of violating the Sedition Act, which prohibited criticism of the government. The first charge was for drafting a document criticizing the federal government. The second charge was for maliciously publishing a French diplomat’s letter, which criticized the federal government. The third charge was for aiding and abetting in that publication. Lyon admitted to the facts but argued that the court did not have jurisdiction, that the acts should not be considered crimes, and that the documents were true.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Paterson, J.)

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