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The US Supreme Court's decision in Schenck v. United States, 249 US 47 (1919) placed a limitation (called an exception) on constitutional First Amendment rights to freedom of speech or expression. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., writing the opinion of the Court, held that First Amendment protection did not extend to circumstances where exercise of speech created a "clear and present danger." This is also the case that used the example of "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater."

A similar case later that year, Abrams v. United States,250 US 616 (1919) upheld the decision, with the notable exception that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who wrote the majority opinion in Schenck, actually joined Justice Brandeis in dissent on Abrams.

These early cases that imposed rigid restrictions on free speech, ostensibly to preserve Law and Order, were overturned by Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 US 444 (1969), which held that the government cannot restrict inflammatory speech unless its intention is to incite, or is likely to incite, "imminent lawless action."

Case Citation:

Schenck v. United States, 249 US 47 (1919)

For more information on Schenck v. United States, see Related Questions, below.

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Q: What did the 'clear and present danger' test that resulted from the Supreme Court decision in Schenck v. US place limits on?
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In Schenck v. US when did the Supreme Court say speech could be more dangerous to the country?

In Schenck v. United States, the Supreme Court said that speech could be more dangerous to the country when it creates a "clear and present danger" of bringing about harmful or dangerous actions that the government has the right to prevent.

Why did justice frankfurter want added time for the supreme court to decide on brown v board of education?

He wanted to present a united decision to the nation

Why did chief justice warren and justice frankfurter want added time to the supreme court to decide on brown v board of education?

To present a united decision to the nation

How did Schenck violate the law during World War 1?

During World War I, Schenck violated the Espionage Act by distributing anti-draft pamphlets that urged resistance to the draft. This was considered a clear and present danger to the war effort, resulting in his arrest and eventual Supreme Court case, Schenck v. United States.

What is the minimum vote required in the supreme court for a decision pass?

In the US Supreme Court, a decision requires a simple majority of the justices hearing the case. If all nine justices are present, the minimum for for a majority is 5 votes of 9.

What is Schenck v US famous for?

"clear and present danger" doctrine to the First Amendment."

What was the effect of the Supreme Court decision described in this headline?

police were required to inform suspects of their right to remain silent and have a lawyer present during questioning the decision established the clear and present danger test judging free speech

If a case is being heard by the US Supreme Court what is the closest decision that can be made if all justices are there?

The Supreme Court requires a simple majority vote for a decision. If all nine justices are present, the closest possible vote would be 5-4.

What are the lasting effects of Schenk v. US?

It protected the use of the draft, introduced the phrase Shouting Fire in a Crowded Theatre, as well as the term Clear and Present Danger. Schenck did six months in jail as a result of this 9 - 0 decision.

Why did justice frankfurter added time for the supreme court to decide on brown v board of education?

They wanted to present a united decision to the nation.

What type of vote is required for a majority decision in the US Supreme Court?

For a case to be heard before the U. S. Supreme Court there must be a quorum. This requires at least six Justices to be present. There is a total of nine Justices on the Supreme Court but illness or recusals could cause less than 9 on a case. For a decision to be rendered it requires a majority of the Justices hearing the case. If all Justices are present the majority would require 5 or more to met this requirement.

What is the supreme courts prinicpal method of expressing its views to the world?

By opinions that state the facts, present the issues, announce the decision, and explain the reasoning of the Court.