The Constitutional Problem of Subversive Advocacy in the United States and Greece: A Comparison of the Legal Guarantees of the Freedom of Political Speech in Times of Internal Crisis

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Closed Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)


Duke University School of Law


This dissertation studies the problem of subversive advocacy in the American and Greek legal order. The interpretations of the First Amendment secured much broader protection of the free speech values in the United States than in Greece. Applying the sedition laws, Greek courts proved to be very deferential to legislative restrictions of free speech. The dissertation focuses on the parameters that account for those judicial attitudes.

In Greece, subversive advocacy was related to the crises that affected the country in the twentieth century. These crises were so profound that were not contained within the constitutional institutions of the time. As a result the courts could not function, in Greece, as a forum for a peaceful resolution of controversies, striking the right balance between authority and dissent, as they did in the United States. Moreover, theories of social contract and the influence of the liberal ideas made the American constitutional tradition favorably disposed to the values of free speech. By contrast, the Greek tradition was dominated by the juristic conception of the state. Finally, the open character of the American legal system, the teleological interpretation of the Constitution and the Common Law tradition, that emphasizes the actual circumstances of the case at bar, intensifying the contact of American constitutional law with social reality, contributed also to the effective protection of free speech by the American courts. Although the Greek system of judicial review is, technically, similar to the American one, Greece is a Civil Law country, where judges enjoy less power than in the United States. A formal style of analysis and the strong hold of legalism made it difficult for the Greek judiciary to develop a theory of free speech and guidelines for determining when radical political speech is constitutionally protected and when not.

The comparative treatment of subversive advocacy in the United States and Greece indicated the importance of jurisprudence and constitutional theory for the development of free speech law in the two countries.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Freedom of speech, Subversive activities--Law and legislation, Greece, United States