The Supreme Court, whose liberal interpretation of the Clayton Act went far to dissipate hostile propaganda of the last campaign, is to have another chance to prove that it is not the tool of conservative standpatters. The relation between the Syndicalist Law of Michigan and the amendments of the constitution which guarantee freedom of speech must be determined by the appeal of Ruthenberg from the Michigan courts. Ruthenberg, secretary of the Workers' Party and a prominent Communist, has been, at intervals, the subject of prosecution by government attorneys. At last he is allowed to appeal to the supreme judicial body to find out how far the constitutional guarantee is henceforth to be enforced.
All the circumstances are favorable to a once-for-all decision. It is a time of peace when wartime passions are absent. It is a time of comparative prosperity when the economic and political structure seems most solid. But the same conservative spirit which actuated the imprisonment of socialists during the war is at work, and the case will test the court's ability to withstand the pervasive dangers of class spirit and to formulate a conception of the freedom of speech under which the courts can protect the rights of minority opinion.