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The Time to Kill a Snake: Gitlow v. New York and the Bad-Tendency Doctrine



This statute is a preventive measure. It is intended to head off these mad and cruel men at the beginning of their careers. It is intended to put out a fire with a bucket of water which might not later on yield to the contents of the reservoir.

—William MacAdoo, presiding judge at Benjamin Gitlow's arraignment

The brief for the plaintiff-in-error contains a very interesting discussion—much of it historical, much of it philosophical—of the right of free speech. We shall not address that question at all.

—State's Brief to Supreme Court, Gitlow v. New York