1937 January 4

First Amendment Victory in “De Jonge v. Oregon”

 

A member of the Communist Party, Dirk De Jonge organized a public meeting on July 27, 1934, where he was arrested. He was then convicted of violating the Oregon Criminal Syndicalism statute, which prohibited advocating the overthrow of the government. The Supreme Court ruled that convicting him for simply conducting a meeting violated the First Amendment.

In retrospect, the decision on this day was an early sign that the Supreme Court was beginning the process of becoming a strong defender of civil liberties, which it did under the “Roosevelt Court” from 1937 to 1945.

The Court: “. . . Peaceable assembly for lawful discussion cannot be made a crime. The holding of meetings for peaceable political action cannot be proscribed. Those who assist in the conduct of such meetings cannot be branded as criminals on that score.”

Learn more: Jamie Kalven and Harry Kalven, A Worthy Tradition: Freedom of Speech in America (1988)

Read: Nat Hentoff, The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America (1980)

Find a Day

Go
Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!