Does the Smith Act Threaten Our Liberties?
American Law and the Communist Conspiracy
THE Smith Act, and the judicial decisions on its constitutionality, are among the most discussed, and unread, of modern official documents. In brief, the Smith Act makes it unlawful for any person to advocate the overthrow of the government by force and violence (Sec. 2), or for any person to attempt to commit or to conspire to commit such advocacy (Sec. 3). In any discussion of the Act, several sorts of issues must be distinguished. One is its constitutionality. A second is its wisdom. A third is the justice of its application to the Communist party. Or to pose the questions directly:
1. Is the law behind the indictment of the leaders of the Communist party constitutional?
2. Constitutional or not, is it wise to have brought the charge?
3. Were the defendants, i.e., the leaders of the Communist party, guilty of the charge-did they actually advocate the use of “force and violence”?
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