Nation: The Legal Issues: Justice and Politics

AT the root of the problems raised by the Chicago trial is the old puzzle of how far a free society should go in regulating inflammatory expression. The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but a government's equal duty is to preserve domestic peace, and as Justice Holmes noted, "Every idea is an incitement." The U.S. is no exception to the rule that in times of violent dissent, political speeches can become fighting words, and rights get bent in the process. Before the Bill of Rights was seven years old, the Federalist Administration of...

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