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STATE LAWS ABRIDGING CIVIL LIBERTIES
Much of the recent suppressive legislation in the United States is in the form of state laws. These laws fall into the general classes of red flag laws, criminal syndicalism, and criminal anarchy or sedition laws. The majority of these laws came, not with the war, but as an aftermath. That this surprising legislation was due to no real danger to the common welfare is shown by the fact that of the 91 laws passed by the close of 1921, 58 were passed in the legislative year of 1919, a year after the close of the war. This formidable array of legal restriction may be attributed to the red hysteria which passed over the country immediately following the war. It has already been noted that the enactment of these state statutes began with the New York and New Jersey laws of 1902, and that the progress of the repression was shown by the Washington statute of 1909 and the Massachusetts red flag law of 1913. Thirty-four states have enacted statutes
of this sort declaring them to be emergency statutes, but the emergency appears to have become permanent.
These laws were
vigorously enforced until as late as 1922 when a drop in
convictions and prosecutions became apparent.
The Red Flag Laws
Twenty-five states had adopted red flag laws up to 1
the close of 1921. The New York red flag law makes it a
1. N. Y. Laws, 1919, c. 409.
misdemeanor to display the red banner "in any public assembly
Such laws as these are patently infringements of
harmless conduct is brought under them and made punishable. Furthermore this conduct is made criminal on the basis of bad
intention, which is punishing men for their thoughts.
viction thus rests upon what the
inside the head of the accused.
2. Kansas, Laws, 1919 c. 184.
A conjury thinks is going on Again, in view of the fact
4. West Virginia, Laws, 1918 c. 24.