The White Court (1910–21)

First Amendment

Which two justices dissented in the Russian Sedition Act case?

Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis dissented in an opinion written by Holmes. Holmes wrote that “surreptitious publishing of a silly leaflet” did not create a “clear and present danger” to the American government. He wrote that the defendants “had as much a right to publish [their leaflets] as the Government has to publish the Constitution of the United States now vainly invoked by them.” In his opinion, Holmes made his impassioned defense of free speech as important to the marketplace of ideas: “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 Consitution.”


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