Law School Case Brief
Masses Pub. Co. v. Patten - 244 F. 535 (S.D.N.Y. 1917)
Act of June 15, 1917, Title 1 § 3, forbids any one from willfully obstructing the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States. The sentence, so far as it restrains public utterance, is limited to the direct advocacy of resistance to the recruiting and enlistment service. If so, the inquiry is narrowed to the question of whether any of the challenged matter may be said to advocate resistance to the draft, taking the meaning of the words with the utmost latitude which they can bear.
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.
Did the defendant U.S. postmaster acted illegally in refusing to mail a magazine containing anti-war sentiments, thereby justifying the issuance of a preliminary injunction against the defendant?
The 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. Const. amend. I political free speech rights.
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