The most visible controversy over civil liberties in Harding's term concerned the fate of the hundreds of war dissenters who remained in federal prison, and some whose trials for federal Espionage Act violations were still pending long after the armistice. In the aftermath of the war and Red Scare, a growing number of Americans considered the government's policies on free speech to be a pressing concern. The federal government under Harding and Coolidge was also able to pull back from the active prosecution of radical speech because many state legislatures had eagerly taken on the job, passing laws designed to criminalize radical organizations and punish unpopular speakers. Beyond the actions of federal and state prosecutors, the Harding/Coolidge era offers many examples that support its reputation as a time when economic conservatism and cultural conformity eroded minority rights.