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Use Of Smith Act To Prosecute Communists Restricted


In the case Yates v. United States, decided in conjunction with Richmond v. United States and Schneiderman v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court limits the government’s use of the Smith Act to prosecute Communists to those instances when a defendant actively participates in, or intentionally encourages, specific insurrectionary activities. As a result, nationwide prosecutions against hundreds of Communists or suspected Communists are halted. Passed in 1940, the Smith Act, formally known as the Alien Registration Act, made it a crime to “advocate, abet, advise, or teach” the destruction of the U.S. government.