1919 pa po iyon, ih, Justice @marvicleonen  (a paraphrase of an oft-quoted line in Justice Holmes’ dissent arguing AGAINST the 20-year imprisonment of three Russian immigrant-socialists for writing/distributing leaflets critical of the deployment of US troops to Russia) #LawonMassMedia #History

1919 pa po iyon, ih, Justice @marvicleonen  (that was more than a hundred years ago, in 1919, a paraphrase of an oft-quoted line in Justice Holmes’ dissent arguing AGAINST the 20-year imprisonment of three Russian immigrant-socialists for writing/distributing leaflets critical of the deployment of US troops to Russia) #LawonMassMedia #History …

arguing that:

“In this case sentences of twenty years imprisonment have been imposed for the publishing of two leaflets that I believe the defendants had as much right to publish as the Government has to publish the Constitution of the United States now vainly invoked by them. Even if I am technically wrong and enough can be squeezed from these poor and puny anonymities to turn the color of legal litmus paper; I will add, even if what I think the necessary intent were shown; the most nominal punishment seems to me all that possible could be inflicted, unless the defendants are to be made to suffer not for what the indictment alleges but for the creed that they avow …” (Justice Holmes dissenting in Abrams vs. United States, 1919)

“Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care whole heartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises. But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas—that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.” (Justice Holmes, 1919)

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