Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater – Schenck v. US

Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater - Schenck v. US
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., c. 1924, introduced the clear-and-present-danger test. | Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater – Schenck v. US

Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater – Schenck v. US

During World War I, socialists Charles Schenck and Elizabeth Baer distributed pamphlets claiming that the draft was in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s ban on involuntary servitude. The leaflets urged people to oppose the conscription, but only in a peaceful way. Schenck was charged with conspiring to break the 1917 Espionage Act by inciting military insubordination and obstructing recruitment. Schenck and Baer were found guilty of breaking this legislation and filed an appeal claiming that the statute was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

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18th Amendment 1919 (National Prohibition Act)

18th Amendment 1919 (National Prohibition Act)
New York City police officers watch as agents pour booze into a sewer after a raid, c. 1921. | 18th Amendment 1919 (National Prohibition Act)

18th Amendment 1919 (National Prohibition Act)

The 18th Amendment, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, was ratified by Congress on January 19, 1919. However, no provisional funds were available for anything other than token enforcement.

The 18th Amendment Divides the Country – Everyone is forced to make a decision: you are either a “dry” who supports Prohibition or a “wet.” But one thing is certain: Prohibition has had little impact on America’s thirst. While organized crime fights for control of illegal alcohol markets, underground distilleries and saloons supply bootlegged liquor to a large clientele. The mayhem prompts the United States Department of Treasury to beef up its law enforcement capabilities.

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