Friday, December 27, 2013

Masses Pub. Co. v. Patten case brief

Masses Pub. Co. v. Patten case brief summary
244 F. 535 (S.D.N.Y.1917)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff publishing company brought action for preliminary injunction against defendant postmaster for refusing to mail a magazine containing anti-war sentiments which allegedly violated Act of June 15, 1917, Title 12 § 1,2, and Title 1 § 3, prohibiting certain statements and acts intended to undermine the operation of the military.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff sought an injunction against defendant U.S. postmaster, alleging that he acted illegally in refusing to mail a magazine containing anti-war sentiments. Defendant argued that under the Act of June 15, 1917, Title 12 §§ 1,2, any writing which by its utterance would infringe any provisions of the other titles in the Act was unmailable. Defendant asserted that the magazine violated Title 1 § 3, which prohibited statements which were intended to interfere with the operation of the military, forbade anyone from willfully causing insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, and forbade anyone from willfully obstructing the United States recruiting or enlistment service.

DISCUSSION

  • The court granted judgment to plaintiff and issued a preliminary injunction, construing the Act narrowly to allow the expression of opinions, and to prohibit only acts that directly advocated the reader to violate the law, in order protect plaintiff's U.S. Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights.

CONCLUSION
Court issued preliminary injunction ordering defendant postmaster to mail magazines containing anti-war sentiments because a federal act prohibiting certain statements and actions which would interfere with the military was narrowly construed to protect plaintiff publisher's U.S. Constitutional Amendment I political free speech rights.

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