Sunday, November 10, 2013

Abrams v. United States case brief

Abrams v. United States case brief summary
250 U.S. 616 (1919)

Defendants sought review of an order of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, which entered their convictions for four counts of conspiring to violate provisions of the Espionage Act of Congress, 40 Stat. 553.

Defendants were charged with conspiring, when the United States was at war with Germany, to publish disloyal language about the form of government of the United States, which was intended to bring the form of the government into contempt, to incite resistance to the United States in the war, to advocate curtailment of production of ammunition essential to the war. Defendants argued that there was no substantial evidence in the record to support the guilty verdicts.

  • The Court ruled that there was substantial evidence to support the verdicts charging defendants with intending to incite resistance to the war and to curtail the production of ammunition. 
  • Because the sentence imposed did not exceed that which might lawfully have been imposed under any single count of the indictment, the Court was not required to consider the sufficiency of the evidence as to all of the counts, as there was sufficient evidence to support at least one of the counts. 
  • The Court rejected defendants' contention that their only intent was to prevent injury to the Russian cause, holding that men had to be held to have intended, and to be accountable for, the effects that their acts were likely to produce.


The Court affirmed defendants' convictions.

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