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clear and present danger

n. the doctrine established in an opinion written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Schenk vs. United States (1919) which is used to determine if a situation creates a threat to the public, individual citizens or to the nation. If so, limits can be placed on First Amendment freedoms of speech, press or assembly. His famous example was that no one should shout "fire" in a crowded theater (speech), but other cases have included the printing of a list of the names and addresses of CIA agents (press) or the gathering together of a lynch mob (assembly).


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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications