The Sedition Act of 1918 (Pub.L. 65–150, 40 Stat. 553, enacted 16 May 1918) was an Act of the United States Congress that extended the Espionage Act of 1917 to cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds. Though the legislation enacted in 1918 is commonly called the Sedition Act, it was actually a set of amendments to the Espionage Act
SECTION 3. Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall willfully make or convey false reports, or false statements,...or incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct...the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, or...shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States...or shall willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall willfully...urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production...or advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.
The act, along with other similar federal laws, was used to convict at least 877 people in 1919 and 1920, according to a report by the attorney general. In 1919, the Supreme Court heard several important free speech cases—including Debs v. United States and Abrams v. United States—involving the constitutionality of the law. In both cases, the court upheld the convictions as well as the law.
As part of a sweeping repeal of War Time Laws, Congress repealed the Sedition Act on 13 December 1920. Later, President Warren Harding commuted Eugene Debs’s sentence to time served.