Gitlow v. New York

Gitlow v. New York

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  • Benjamin Gitlow, a socialist, was arrested for distributing copies of a "left-wing manifesto" that called for the establishment of socialism through strikes and class action of any form. Gitlow was convicted under a state criminal anarchy law, which punished advocating the overthrow of the government by force.
  • At his trial, Gitlow argued that since there was no resulting action flowing from the manifesto's publication, the statute penalized utterances without propensity to incitement of concrete action. The New York courts had decided that anyone who advocated the doctrine of violent revolution violated the law.
  • Chief Justice Taft
  • Issue: Does the First Amendment apply to the states?
  • Ruling: Yes, by virtue of the liberty protected by due process that no state shall deny (14th Amendment). On the merits, a state may forbid both speech and publication if they have a tendency to result in action dangerous to public security, even though such utterances create no clear and present danger.
  • The impact of this case enforces the right of free speech through the 14th amendment and the power of the supreme court to determine the power and meanings of the constitution and it's amendments.
  • WORK CITED "Gitlow v. New York." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Jan 3, 2017. <>
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