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Dennis v. United States

Significance, "clear And Present Danger", "beyond These Powers We Must Not Go", Dissenters Cite Prior Censorship


Eugene Dennis, Benjamin Davis, John Gates, Gil Green, Gus Hall, Irving Potash, Jack Stachel, Robert Thompson, John Williamson, Henry Winston, Carl Winter


United States

Petitioners' Claim

That the Smith Act violates the First Amendment and other provisions of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

Chief Lawyers for Petitioners

George W. Crockett, Jr., Abraham J. Isserman, Harry Sacher

Chief Lawyers for Respondent

Philip B. Perlman, Irving S. Shapiro

Justices for the Court

Harold Burton, Felix Frankfurter, Robert H. Jackson, Sherman Minton, Stanley Forman Reed, Fred Moore Vinson (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

Hugo Lafayette Black, William O. Douglas (Tom C. Clark did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

4 June 1951


Provisions of the Smith Act prohibiting willful advocacy of overthrow of government by force or violence, organization of any group for that purpose and conspiracy to violate such provisions were held not to violate the First Amendment or other provisions of the Bill of Rights.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953