The Lessons of 1919

15 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2019

See all articles by Lackland Bloom

Lackland Bloom

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: 2019


One hundred years ago, the Supreme Court embarked on its first serious consideration of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. In 1919, the Court upheld four federal criminal convictions over First Amendment defenses. Three of the majority opinions were written by Justice Holmes. In the fourth, he offered a classic dissent. Two of the cases, Frohwerk v. United States and Debs v. United States, are of middling significance. The other two, Schenck v. United States and Abrams v. United States, are iconic. From these cases have sprung an expansive and complex jurisprudence of free speech. The author elaborates on these historical cases, and their significance to freedom of speech doctrine and jurisdiction.

Keywords: constitutional law, First Amendment, freedom of speech, Supreme Court, Schenck v. Unived States, Abrams v. United States

Suggested Citation

Bloom, Lackland, The Lessons of 1919 (2019). 72 SMU Law Review 361 (2019), SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 441, Available at SSRN:

Lackland Bloom (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

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