De Jonge v. Oregon 299 U.S. 353 (1937)

Author:Martin Shapiro

Page 760

The Oregon Criminal Syndicalism Law was declared unconstitutional as applied to a person who conducted a meeting of the Communist party at which "neither CRIMINAL SYNDICALISM nor any unlawful conduct was taught or advocated." The Supreme Court held that peaceful speech at a peaceful, open meeting could not be punished constitutionally simply because of party sponsorship even if it were assumed that the party advocated violent overthrow of government. "Peaceable assembly for lawful discussion," declared Chief Justice CHARLES EVANS HUGHES for an 8?0 Court, "cannot be made a crime."

This is one of the early cases "incorporating" the FREEDOM OF SPEECH and FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY provisions of the FIRST AMENDMENT into the DUE PROCESS clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, thus making them binding on the states. Unlike many other speech cases of the 1920s and 1930s, De Jonge rests firmly on freedom of speech rather than on collateral due process grounds such as VAGUENESS. It also foreshadows later, not altogether...

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