The appellant, a negro member of the Communist Party, was engaged in work as a paid party organizer in Atlanta in 1932. Shortly after leading a hunger march of unemployed he was arrested, and was tried and convicted under a state statute, enacted in the Reconstruction Period, which made criminal "any attempt, by persuasion or otherwise, to induce others to join in any combined resistance to the lawful' authority of the State." At the time of his arrest the appellant had in his possession evidence of his organization activities and also a quantity of party literature, but there was no proof that he had distributed the latter, or advocated any doctrine of forcible subversion of the authority of the state. An earlier appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and upon his commitment the appellant sought the writ of habeas corpus. The state court reversed a judgment ordering his discharge and on appeal to the Supreme Court it was held with four justices dissenting, (1) that the application given the statute unreasonably limited freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and therefore violated the Fourteenth Amendment, and (2) that the statute did not furnish a sufficiently ascertainable standard of guilt. Herndon v. Lowry, (U.S. 1937) 57 S. Ct. 732.
Jack L. White,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - PROTECTION OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH UNDER THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol35/iss8/14