100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.

Eugene Dennis

Eugene Dennis

The Red Scare and the American Communist Party Conspiracy

“Moscow Puppet and Defender of Political Speech”

341 U.S. 494 (1951)

The cold war-era case, Dennis et al. v. United States, stands out in First Amendment jurisprudence as a decision that blurred the distinction between advocacy and conduct in free speech cases. In a 6−2 opinion, the Supreme Court upheld the Alien Registration Act of 1940, better known as the Smith Act, and the convictions of eleven members of the American Communist Party for conspiring to teach and advocate the overthrow of the government by force or violence. Justice Tom C. Clark did not participate in the decision because he had served as attorney general while the Justice Department was pursuing part of the Dennis case. The ...

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