During WWⅠ Charles Schenck and Elizabeth Baer, distributed pamphlets urging people to disobey the draft as it violated the 13th amendment prevention against indentured servitude. Schenck was charged of trying to incite insubordination in the military and disrupting recruitment, both of which violated Espionage Act of 1917. Schenck and Baer were convicted but fought it saying that it violated the first amendment.
Although defeated in the lower courts Schenck believed he still had a chance.So with that the case went to the supreme court, where the judges had some tough questions to answer. This question was weather Schenck's conviction under the Espionage Act for criticizing the draft violate his First Amendment right to freedom of speech?
The decision was unanimous with all the judges ruling in favor of the united states. Justice Holmes put forth their reasoning saying the Espionage Act of 1917 was constitutional and fell under Congress's war time powers. Additionally, he reasoned that the Espionage Act did not violate any rights as it prevented the spread of “danger”.
This case was very significant. It define First amendment limits, helping to establish that free speech did in fact have limits. Furthermore, the case helped affirm Congresses war time powers.