Cramer v. United States, 325 U.S. 1 (1945), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States reviewed the conviction of Anthony Cramer, a German-born naturalized citizen, for treason. The case was reargued on November 6 1944, and finally decided on April 23, 1945.
Anthony Cramer in 1942
Cramer had associated with two Germans, Werner Thiel and Edward Kerling —one of whom he had prior business dealings with. The two were later found to be in the United States for the purpose of sabotage. Cramer was also arrested and convicted on the basis of this association.
The Court decided five-to-four to overturn the jury verdict. Writing for the majority, Justice Robert H. Jackson said that the constitution is clear in its definition of treason, limited to the waging of war, or giving material assistance to an enemy. The prosecution and its witnesses could demonstrate only an association and not that Cramer had given "Aid and Comfort," as defined in Article Three. Jackson wrote that the jury had been given no evidence that Cramer had "even paid for their drinks."
Writing for the dissent, Justice William O. Douglas claimed that acts, though innocent by nature, may serve a treasonous plan. Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone concurred with the dissent.