Title page for ETD etd-07122007-160505

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Best, James Connor
Author's Email Address jconnorbest@yahoo.com
URN etd-07122007-160505
Title Clear and Present Danger: Brandenburg Test after September 11, 2001
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Emily Erickson Committee Chair
James Stoner Committee Member
Kirby Goidel Committee Member
  • first amendment
  • clear and present danger
  • brandenburg
  • hand
Date of Defense 2007-07-06
Availability unrestricted
In a post-September 11, 2001 America and in light of the very real threat posed by radical Islamic terrorist, the courts must rethink the line between protected speech and incitement to violence. The Brandenburg test, which was previously understood to be the modern test to distinguish protected from unprotected advocacy, should be questioned. By examining the development of the Court's First Amendment doctrine leading up to Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), I establish that Brandenburg is ill fitted to be applied to advocacy of terrorism. In Brandenburg, the Court actually conflated two previously distinct speech tests-Judge Learned Hand's incitement test and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' clear and present danger test-without explaining how these two tests fit together. In addition, the Court founded Brandenburg on sandy soil. The Court failed to distinguish between the two traditions. They cited Hand's incitement tradition as precedent for the clear and present danger test. In doing so, they credited Brandenburg's imminence requirement to Hand's direct incitement tradition, which did not include an imminence requirement. Therefore, Brandenburg should be abandoned. I conclude that the courts should apply the clear and present danger test and the direct incitement test separately according to the particular circumstances of each case. I will give two modern examples of advocacy of terrorism. I will show how the courts would be better off applying the clear and present danger test as developed by Holmes and Brandeis in one case and the direct incitement test as developed in by Judge Hand in the other. By taking a two test approach to advocacy of terrorism, the government will better posses the tools it needs to protect national security.
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