Clear And Present Danger Definition and Legal Meaning
On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Clear And Present Danger, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.
What is Clear And Present Danger?
It is a legal rule established to impose a limitation on the First Amendment “free speech rights”.Freedom of speech, press, assembly can sometimes prevent the government from maintaing law and order like in wartime, in public places shouting the word “danger or fire” without reason,or publishing confidential information in press.
History and Definition of Clear And Present Danger
Clear and Present Danger is a term that originated from a legal case in the United States, Schenck v. United States (1919). It is a legal rule that sets a limitation on free speech rights established by the First Amendment. In essence, it means that a person can be punished for expressing their opinions if those opinions create an immediate threat to national security or public safety.
The Supreme Court established this rule to balance the right to free speech with the need to maintain law and order. The government has broad powers to regulate speech when it poses a "clear and present danger." However, the government must demonstrate that the danger is immediate, and the restriction on speech is necessary to prevent the danger.
Examples of Clear And Present Danger
Shouting "fire" in a crowded theater when there isn't a fire is an example of clear and present danger. This speech creates a panic and poses an immediate threat to public safety.
Disclosing classified information that could potentially compromise national security is an example of clear and present danger. This speech could endanger the lives of U.S. soldiers, intelligence operatives, or citizens.
Encouraging violent protests or riots that could lead to immediate harm or destruction is an example of clear and present danger. This speech poses an immediate threat to public safety and the order of society.
Legal Terms Similar to Clear And Present Danger
Imminent lawless action: this legal term is like Clear and Present Danger in that it sets a limitation on free speech. It means that the government can restrict speech that is likely to cause immediate law-breaking, but not necessarily a broader danger to public order.
Fighting words: an exception in the First Amendment to freedom of speech rights that allows some regulated restrictions on speech that directly incites damaging or violent effects on a particular audience.
Prior restraint: this legal term means that the government can restrict speech before it happens. It is a severe restriction on freedom of speech and is only applicable in certain cases.