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Rights and Resistance: Civil Liberties during World War I Scholarly Panel

The following is a guest post by Ryan Reft, a historian in the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress.  

 

But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by the free trade in ideas – that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our constitution.

In his famous dissent from Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 (1919), Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., deviated from his own earlier majority opinions on the issue of free speech.  Justice Louis Brandeis also contributed an equally powerful dissent in Abrams. Both justices rejected what they believed to be overly stringent limits placed on free speech by the Espionage Act of 1917 and its 1918 amendment, known as the Sedition Act.

Over time, the two dissents pointed to the future of American jurisprudence regarding civil liberties in the 20th century and contributed to our modern conception of citizenship.  Notably, the Holmes dissent represented a retreat from his “clear and present danger” doctrine as expressed in his majority opinion for Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), which outlined the limits of free speech, particularly in war time.

The shift in Holmes’s legal arguments represents the larger tumult over civil liberties that occurred within the United States during the war. Outside of the courtroom through the protests of citizens, the actions of vigilantes and advocacy by the NAACP and the newly established American Civil Liberties Union, the rights of citizens came into sharp focus. As the nation commemorates the centennial marking U.S. entry into World War I, the Law Library and Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress are gathering a panel of five eminent scholars to debate the meaning of the war on civil liberties.

On June 8, 2017, from 2:15 to 4:30 pm, in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E, Washington D.C., former Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance, current Emory University Asa Griggs Candler Professor of law and historian Mary Dudziak will moderate a panel of scholars regarding the intersection of civil liberties, wartime resistance, and citizenship entitled “Rights and Resistance: Civil Liberties during World War I.” In addition to Dudziak, the panel includes University of Texas Law Professor and 2016 Guggenheim fellow David Rabban; Columbia Law professor Jeremy Kessler; former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, former University Provost, and current law professor Geoffrey Stone; and assistant professor of political science at University of Washington Megan Ming Francis.

The event is free and open to the public.  It has been made possible by the James Madison Council, the Library’s private sector advisory council. Tickets are not required.

FALQs: Demonetization in India

The following is a guest post by Supreetha Sampath Kumar, a foreign law intern at the Law Library of Congress. On November 8, 2016, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, announced the “notebandi” initiative, declaring that the use of all Rupees (Rs.) 500 and Rs. 1,000 banknotes (equal to about US$7.60 and US$15.30) of […]

Changes to the Law on Sexual Offenses in Japan

This following is a guest post by Sayuri Umeda, a foreign law specialist who covers Japan and various other countries in East and Southeast Asia. She has previously written posts for In Custodia Legis on various topics, including testing of older drivers in Japan, English translations of post-World War II South Korean laws, laws and regulations passed […]

Many Adoptions in Japan are Not About Raising Children

This post is by Sayuri Umeda, a foreign law specialist who covers Japan and various other East Asian and Southeast Asian countries. She has previously written posts for In Custodia Legis on various topics, including testing of older drivers in Japan, English translations of post-World War II South Korean laws, laws and regulations passed in the aftermath […]

Reaching a Web Traffic Milestone on Congress.gov

The following is a guest post by Natalie Buda Smith, user experience team supervisor at the Library of Congress. In recent blog posts, we shared how we continuously conduct usability testing and regularly release enhancements to make Congress.gov easier to use and search. We also use data analytics to understand website traffic, by monitoring visits, […]

The Saudi Arabian 2012 Arbitration Law

The following is a guest post by Abdalrahman Alangari, a student from Saudi Arabia who was a foreign law intern at the Law Library of Congress for a few months in late 2016. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest economy among the Gulf countries. Developments in the Kingdom in recent years have transformed it into a new regional and global hub for […]

Catching Up with the Indigenous Law Portal: Moving South

The following is a guest post by Carla Davis-Castro, a librarian who has been working on our Indigenous Law Portal. The Indigenous Law Portal, launched on the Law Library’s website in June 2014, provides an open access platform to legal materials regarding how indigenous peoples govern themselves. Currently featuring North America (Canada, the United States, and Mexico), […]

The Masquerade King and the Regulation of Dancing in Sweden

The following is a guest post by Elin Hofverberg, a foreign law research consultant who covers Scandinavian countries. Elin has previously written for In Custodia Legis on diverse topics, including Alfred Nobel’s Will: A Legal Document that Might Have Changed the World and a Man’s Legacy, Researching Norwegian Law Online and in the Library, the Swedish Detention Order Regarding Julian […]