Communication written with the intent to incite people to change the government by unlawful means or to advocate the overthrow of the government by force or violence.
Although presented with opportunities to decide the question of what is legal dissent and what is seditious libel before the twentieth century, with the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), the Supreme Court did not address the question until 1919 in Schenck v. United States
Associate Justice Brockholst Livingston, who joined the Supreme Court in 1807, had been a strong supporter of state prosecutions of seditious libel while he was on the New York Supreme Court.
Also in 1919 the Court further expanded what Congress could prohibit people from saying in Abrams v. United States
In the 1920’s the Court expanded the power to limit seditious speech to the states. In Gitlow v. New York
With World War II looming and the belief that Soviet socialistic subversion could undermine American society, Congress passed the Smith Act
The Court began to change its stand on seditious libel when it recognized, in Yates v. United States
Continuing to recognize and develop this distinction between advocating abstract ideas and advocating action, the Court, in Brandenburg v. Ohio
In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
Chaffee, Zechariah, Jr. Free Speech in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1941. Kersch, Ken I. Freedom of Speech: Rights and Liberties Under the Law. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2003. Levy, Leonard, Kenneth Karst, and Dennis Mahoney. The First Amendment. New York: Macmillan, 1990. Lewis, Thomas T., ed. The Bill of Rights. 2 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2002. Van Alstyne, William. First Amendment: Cases and Materials. Wesbury, N.Y.: Foundation Press, 1995.
Abrams v. United States
Brandenburg v. Ohio
Dennis v. United States
Gitlow v. New York
Schenck v. United States
Sedition Act of 1798
Whitney v. California
Yates v. United States