Dennis v. United States

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Dennis v. United States

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued December 4, 1950

Decided June 4, 1951

Full case name: Eugene Dennis, et al. v. United States
Citations: 341 U.S. 494; 71 S. Ct. 857; 95 L. Ed. 1137; 1951 U.S. LEXIS 2407
Prior history: Motion by co-defendant to dismiss attorney denied, 9 F.R.D. 367 (S.D.N.Y. 1949); defendants convicted, S.D.N.Y., 10-29-49; affirmed, 183 F.2d 201 (2nd Cir. 1950)
Subsequent history: Rehearing denied, 342 U.S. 842 (1951); rehearing denied, 355 U.S. 936 (1958)
Holding
Defendants' convictions for conspiring, through their participation in the Communist Party, to overthrow the U.S. government by force were not prohibited by the First Amendment.
Court membership
Chief Justice: Fred Vinson
Associate Justices: Hugo Black, Stanley Reed, Felix Frankfurter, William O. Douglas, Robert Jackson, Harold Burton, Tom Clark, Sherman Minton
Case opinions
Plurality by: Vinson
Joined by: Reed, Burton, Minton
Concurrence by: Frankfurter
Concurrence by: Jackson
Dissent by: Black
Dissent by: Douglas
Clark took no part in the consideration or decision of the case
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I; 18 U.S.C. 10, 11 (1946)

Dennis v. United States, Template:Ussc, was a United States Supreme Court case involving Eugene Dennis, general secretary of the Communist Party, USA and dealing with citizens' rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The Case

George W. Crockett, Jr., Abraham J. Isserman and Harry Sacher argued the cause for petitioners. With them on the brief was Richard Gladstein.

Solicitor General Perlman and Irving S. Shapiro argued the cause for the United States. With them on the brief were Attorney General McGrath, Assistant Attorney General McInerney, Irving H. Saypol, Robert W. Ginnane, Frank H. Gordon, Edward C. Wallace and Lawrence K. Bailey.

The Decision

Handed down as a 6-2 decision by the Court on June 4, 1951, the judgment and a plurality opinion was delivered by Chief Justice of the United States Fred Vinson, who was joined by Justices Stanley Forman Reed, Sherman Minton, and Harold H. Burton. Separate concurring opinions were delivered by Justices Felix Frankfurter and Robert H. Jackson. Justices Hugo Black and William O. Douglas wrote separate dissenting opinions. Justice Tom Clark did not participate in this case.

The Court ruled against the plaintiff, a leader of the Communist Party in the United States, convicted for teaching, conspiring and organizing for the willful overthrow and destruction of the United States government by force and violence, under provisions of the Smith Act.

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