We all know (well, maybe) that one of the limits on the First Amendment right of freedom of speech is that you may not falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater (people often omit the “falsely”). But the First Amendment also includes the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“New York Probes Fake FCC Comments,”The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2018 A4. NY attorney general investigates the use of fake names on comments submitted to the FCC on the net neutrality issue.
Leaving aside the post-decision history of the case (US v. Schenck has been effectively overruled) and whether the statements by Justice Holmes were dicta, not law (in a case about political speech by a Socialist), it is interesting to consider whether a lobbying firm can be prosecuted (much less convicted) for misleading speech to a government agency. From a Governance perspective, doesn’t the Constitution govern? Don’t the lobbyists have an absolute right to petition the government? Is the Constitution both an instrument of Governance and a control on how much the government can control Information? Are there analogous cases involving the common law controls on an employee’s conduct?
Also, is there a point to be made here about not really knowing the context of history and famous phrases?