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Frohwerk v. United States

Citation. 249 U.S. 204, 39 S. Ct. 249, 63 L. Ed. 561, 1919 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Petitioner, Frohwerk (Petitioner), was convicted of attempting to cause disloyalty, mutiny and refusal of duty in the military of the Respondent, the United States (Respondent).

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Speech that could incite the audience to react negatively to the war efforts may be restricted without violating the United States Constitution (Constitution).


The Petitioner published 12 articles in his own newspaper that denounced the war and military action. He was subsequently convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.


Are Petitioner’s First Amendment constitutional rights violated by this conviction?


No. It is possible that this paper was read by those in military service or subject to service who would react by opposing the war efforts.


There does not appear to be enough evidence to show that the articles caused a negative reaction. But there was enough dissent in the ranks that the Petitioner was counting on to react to the articles. The analysis here is based on the intent of the speech rather than its actual effect.

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