Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Person.png Oliver Wendell Holmes   SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died1935-03-06 (Age 93)
Washington DC, U.S.
Alma materHarvard University
ReligionUnitarian Universalism
SpouseFanny Dixwell
Member ofAlpha Delta Phi, Phi Beta Kappa

On freedom of speech

In Schenck v. United States, Oliver Wendell Holmes famously argued that freedom of speech should not protect a person "falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic." Holmes said that expressions which in the circumstances were intended to result in a crime and posed a "clear and present danger" of succeeding were punishable.

This argument was used to support enforcement of the 1917 Espionage Act during World War I. Charles Schenck and Elizabeth Baer were members of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party in Philadelphia, of which Schenck was General Secretary. The executive committee authorized, and Schenck oversaw, printing and mailing more than 15,000 leaflets to men slated for conscription during World War I. The leaflets urged men not to submit to the draft, saying "Do not submit to intimidation", "Assert your rights".

Sacco and Vanzetti Case

In 1927, Oliver Wendell Holmes denied an appeal in the case of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.[1]


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