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Yates v. United States

United States Supreme Court
354 U.S. 298 (1957)

Yates v. United States


Oleta Yates (defendant) and 13 others were charged in federal district court for violations of the Smith Act, including charges of conspiring to advocate the necessity of overthrowing the United States government and organizing, as the Communist Party of United States, with the intent to cause the overthrow of the United States Government. At trial, the court instructed the jury that the defendants could not be convicted based on advocacy or teaching that did not include urging force or violence to overthrow the government. The court further instructed that the type of advocacy charged in the action taught the necessity of violently overthrowing the government, as opposed to merely the desirability of doing so, and urged a duty to violently overthrow the government. The jury convicted Yates and the other defendants, and the appellate court sustained the convictions. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Harlan, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Black, J.)

Dissent (Clark, J.)

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