DE JONGE v. OREGON
On July 27, 1934, at a meeting held by the Communist Party, Dirk De Jonge addressed the audience regarding jail conditions in the county and a maritime strike in progress in Portland. While the meeting was in progress, police raided it. De Jonge was arrested and charged with violating the State's criminal syndicalism statute. The law defines criminal syndicalism as "the doctrine which advocates crime, physical violence, sabotage or any unlawful acts or methods as a means of accomplishing or effecting industrial or political change or revolution." After being convicted, De Jonge moved for an acquittal, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to warrant his conviction. Disagreeing, the State Supreme Court distinguished that the indictment did not charge De Jonge with criminal syndicalism, but rather that he presided at, conducted and assisted in conducting an assemblage of persons, organization, society and group called by the Communist Party, which was unlawfully teaching and advocating in Multnomah county the doctrine of criminal syndicalism and sabotage.
Does Oregon's criminal syndicalism statute violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
Yes. In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Charles E. Hughes, the Court held that the Oregon statute, as applied, violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. After reviewing the record, the Court determined that De Jonge's sole offense was assisting in a public meeting held under the auspices of the Communist Party. The Court reasoned that to preserve the rights of free speech and peaceable assembly - principles embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment - not the auspices under which a meeting is held, but the purpose of the meeting and whether the speakers' remarks transcend the bounds of freedom of speech must be examined, which had not occurred in De Jonge's case. Justice Harlan Fiske Stone took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.