clear and present danger

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Not just a potential danger but one that will likely cause a catastrophe if not immediately obstructed or neutralized. This phrase was suggested as a test of harmful speech by the US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States. In delivering the court's unanimous decision upholding the conviction of a socialist party officer (who encouraged resistance to the World War 1 draft) under the Espionage act (which suppressed free speech), justice Holmes noted that the "character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done." He went on to say that, "when a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right."

Use 'clear and present danger' in a Sentence

I should have taken better notice of the clear and present danger sign outside my apartment complex before going inside.
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Sometimes your business may feel like it is in a state of clear and present danger and you need to take precautions.
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If you ever find yourself in a situation that has clear and present danger you should try to get out as quick as possible.
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