The Communications Act of 1934 regulated television and radio. Broadcasters
have public obligations, which serve as a limit on their First Amendment
Laws and Proposed Laws, 1900-1950 Archives
The Espionage Act of 1917, passed two months after the U.S. entered World
War I, criminalized the release of information that could hurt national
security and causing insubordination or disloyalty in the military. The law
was expanded in 1918 to criminalize dissent against the war effort, but
that portion of the law (the Sedition Act) was repealed.
The McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 required Communist organizations
to register with the government, posing a risk to First Amendment freedoms
of association and speech.
Some states as late as the 1940s prohibited musical desecration or
alteration of “The Star-Spangled Banner” national anthem. Such laws would
be considered unconstitutional today as a restriction of First Amendment
rights to free expression.
The Taft-Hartley Act addressed appropriate forms of symbolic speech, as
well as acceptable and unacceptable regulation of the right to association
granted in the First Amendment.
The Tillman Act of 1907, the first federal effort to regulate campaign
finance in U.S. elections, banned corporations from expending treasury
money to influence a federal election.