National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1931-1946: We meet crisis in the Depression, and again in World War II

1945
Harold Raymond Medina presides over trial of eleven U.S. Communist Party leaders

Harold Raymond Medina

Harold R. Medina (1888-1990)

Harold Raymond Medina twice played a role in determining how this country defined treason and conspiracy. In 1945, the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed a conviction for treason, the only crime described explicitly in the Constitution. Medina represented a German-born naturalized citizen convicted of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The Court reversed his conviction.

Medina became a federal judge in New York. In 1949, he presided over the trial of 11 leaders of the U.S. Communist Party charged with advocating the violent overthrow of the government. The jury found all the defendants guilty and Medina sentenced them to prison. The Supreme Court upheld the convictions, saying the government could prosecute Communist Party officials “in the face of preparation for revolution.”

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