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Communist trials--Minnesota; Libertarianism; Sedition--Law and legislation; Conspiracies--United States


Although society may have good reasons for protecting itself against both sedition and conspiracy, history demonstrates that statutes directed against these offenses are particularly prone to result in the abuse of power. A possibility of just such an abuse in the first application of the Smith Act - the Minneapolis Trotskyite trial of 1941 - led to a consideration of a civil libertarian caught in the cross-pressure of enforcing a law anathema to his professed liberal beliefs. The study showed that, during time of threat, internal or external, our democratic society permits our government officials, in the name of survival, to limit those freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.

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