Search Supreme Court Cases

DEBS V. UNITED STATES, 249 U. S. 211 (1919)

U.S. Supreme Court

Debs v. United States, 249 U.S. 211 (1919)

Debs v. United States

No. 714

Argued January 27, 28, 1919

Decided March 10, 1919

249 U.S. 211


The delivery of a speech in such word and such circumstances that the probable effect will be to prevent recruiting, and with that intent, is punishable under the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917, c. 30, § 3, 40 Stat. 217, as amended by the Act of May 16, 1918, c. 75, § 1, 40 Stat. 553. P. 249 U. S. 212.

Such a speech is not protected because of the fact that the purpose to oppose the war and obstruct recruiting, and the expressions used in that regard, were but incidental parts of a general propaganda of socialism and expressions of a general and conscientious belief. P. 249 U. S. 215.

In a prosecution for obstructing and attempting to obstruct recruiting, by a speech in which defendant expressed sympathy with others, imprisoned for similar offenses, the ground for whose convictions he purported to understand, held that the records in the other cases were admissible as tending to explain the subject and true import of defendant's remarks and his intent. Id.

In such prosecution, held that a document -- a so-called "Anti-War Proclamation and Program" -- expressing and advocating opposition to the war was admissible against the defendant as evidence of his intent in connection with other evidence that, an hour before his speech, he expressed his approval of such platform. Id.

Semble that persons designated by the Draft Act of May 18, 1917, registered and enrolled under it and thus subject to be called into active service, are part of the military forces of the United States within the meaning of § 3 of the Espionage Act. P. 249 U. S. 216.


The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 249 U. S. 212

Powered by Justia US Supreme Court Center: DEBS V. UNITED STATES, 249 U. S. 211 (1919)

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.