Is it constitutional for the government to restrict freedom of speech for the purpose of protecting the Government of the United States?.
On June 17, 1957 the Supreme Court found leaders of the Communist Party of California guilty for conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States. The Court found the Communist Party to be guilty of promoting and soliciting the unlawful purposes of their party, to be affiliated with other Communist Parties elsewhere, to write and publish articles on the teaching of overthrowing the Government, and to recruit new members from schools and other federal institutions. .
The decision of the Supreme Court was controversial among the justices. Mr. Justice Harlan delivered the opinion of the court in which he states under the Smith Act of 1940, "Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any [government in the United States] by force or violence shall be fined not more than $ 10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both . . ." Fourteen persons were charged with violating the Smith Act for being members of the Communist Party in California. The Smith Act made it unlawful to advocate or organize the destruction or overthrow of any government in the United States by force. Yates claimed that his party was engaged in passive actions and that any violation of the Smith Act must involve active attempts to overthrow the government. The Smith Act of 1940 made it an offense to advocate or belong to a group that advocated the violent overthrow of the government, was the basis of later prosecutions of members of the Communist and Socialist Workers parties. After the decision of this case was made, the U.S. Supreme Court restricted the application of the Smith Act to instances of active participation in, or verbal encouragement of, specific insurrectionary activities.