Mugler Vs Kansa Case Analysis

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The son of Russian- Jewish immigrants, Benjamin Gitlow, was the source of controversy in this case. Gitlow was well known to the left wing Socialist party, which later formed the American Communist Party. In 1918, he was elected to the New York legislature. During this time he helped create and distribute the pamphlet entitled Left Wing Manifesto, which stated that a proletarian revolution is inevitability. This means that the working class would try to overthrow the upper class citizens. The distribution of pamphlets violated a New York Criminal Anarchy Act of 1902. This act prohibited the advocacy of criminal anarchy by the overthrowing of government through use of force. Because of this law, Gitlow was arrested on November 9th, 1919 at …show more content…
In a 7-2 ruling, the Court found Gitlow guilt of criminal anarchy. He was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment by the state of New York. Justice Edward Sanford delivered the majority opinion, while Justice Oliver Holmes and Justice Louis Brandeis dissented in this case. There were three important precedent cases used in the ruling of this case. The first case Mugler v Kansa (1887), declared that States are the primary judges when dealing with regulations, required in the interest of public safety and welfare. Next, Great Northern Ry v Clara City (1918) which stated that police statutes can only be ruled unconstitutional when there are irrational efforts to exercise their authority vested in the State and the public interest. Finally, the third and final case of Schenck v United States (1919). This decision proclaims that cases regarding questions on freedoms protected in the Constitution are circumstantial. You must look at the situation and see if the words present a “clear and present danger” to public …show more content…
The court said that the New York law did not restrain people from advocating government changes through lawful means. What it did outlaw was “language advocating, advising, or teaching the overthrow of organized government by unlawful means.” Which is what they believed Gitlow had done with the pamphlets. Justice Sanford stated that it could be assumed that the freedom of speech and press (protected in the First Amendment) are among the fundamental rights also protected in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, just because they are protected in the Amendments does not mean that a person can speak or publish without taking responsibility for their words. Justice Sanford outwardly stated that there was no question in this case regarding the states ability to punish those citizens who abuse this freedom. A state can punish those who violate this freedom; this is not open to debate according to Justice Sanford. Justice Holmes and Justice Brandeis both believed that the ruling should be reversed. These two Justices used Schenck v United States (1919) case to further their reasoning. They believed that because Gitlow and the Socialist party had so few followers, there was no present danger of attempted overthrowing of the government by

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