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Gitlow v. New York
|Gitlow v. New York|
Supreme Court of the United States
| Argued April 12, 1923 |
Reargued November 23, 1923
|Though the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from infringing free speech, the defendant was properly convicted under New York's criminal anarchy law for advocating the violent overthrow of the government, through the dissemination of Communist pamphlets.|
|U.S. Const. amend. I, XIV; N.Y. Penal Law §§ 160, 161|
Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925) was an historically important case argued before the United States Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had extended the reach of certain provisions of the First Amendment — specifically the provisions protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press — to the governments of the individual states. The Supreme Court had previously held, in Barron v. Baltimore, 32 U.S. 243 (1833), that the Constitution's Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government, and that, consequently, the federal courts could not stop the enforcement of state laws that restricted the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Gitlow v. New York's partial reversal of that precedent began a trend towards nearly complete reversal; the Supreme Court now holds that almost every provision of the Bill of Rights applies to both the federal government and the states. Ironically, the Court upheld the state law challenged in Gitlow v. New York, which made it a crime to advocate the duty, need, or appropriateness of overthrowing government by force or violence. The Court's ruling on the effects of the Fourteenth Amendment was incidental to the decision, but nevertheless established an extremely significant precedent.
As justification for its decision, the Supreme Court relied on the "due process clause" of the Fourteenth Amendment. This provision — contained in Section One of the amendment — prohibits any state from depriving "any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Specifically, in its decision the Court stated that the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press were "among the fundamental rights and 'liberties' protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the states." The Court has used this reasoning in other cases, such as Wolf v. Colorado, 338 U.S. 25 (1949), and Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), to extend the reach of the Bill of Rights. Constitutional scholars refer to this as the process as the "Incorporation Doctrine," meaning that the Supreme Court incorporates specific rights into the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Spaeth, Harold J.; and Smith, Edward Conrad. (1991). HarperCollins college outline series: Constitution of the United States. (13th ed.). New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-467105-4
- Full text of the decision courtesy of Findlaw.com
- At wikisource: Full text of Gitlow v. New York.
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