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CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET
Vol. V, No. 4
August, 1960

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS ISSUE


The first issue of the CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET appeared in October, 1955. It may be instructive to take a quick look backward to see some of the changes in the civil liberties and civil rights field in the past five years.

The third case in that first issue perhaps sets the stage fairly accurately:

Wisconsin v. Joe Must Go Club of Wis., Inc. (Wis. S. Ct.) Feb. 1955: Def.-club convicted on 21 counts of violating Wis. Corrupt Practices Act in campaign to recall Sen. McCarthy, fined $4200. June, 1955: Wis. S. Ct. remanded with directions to dismiss because legislative history showed Act applied to corporations in business for profit, not to corporations like Def.

How Much Progress Since 1955?

Four of the cases reported in October 1955 are dead, but their progeny are reported in August 1960:

Livittown, Pa. was built as a segregated development, and the 1955 suit testing this lack of democracy was dismissed (640.1). But Levittown, N.J. was enjoined in 1960 from maintaining a lilywhite policy, the court sustaining the constitutionality of the N.J. Law Against Discrimination as applied to Levitt (532.21).

In 1955, Harvey O'Connor was convicted of contempt of the McCarthy Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (304.4). The conviction was ultimately reversed because of the vagueness of the question. In 1960, O'Connor faces trial for contempt of the House UnAmerican Activities Comm. (271.40)

In 1955, Owen Lattimore's perjury case had just been dismissed at the Government's request. (380.1) In 1960, the Institute of Pacific Relations was returned to tax exempt status, after suit. (202.3)

In 1955, the federal district court ruled against discrimination on the Charlotte, N.C. public golf course. (660.7) In 1960, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the appeals of Negro golfers, convicted for trying to tee off on a N.C. public golf course. (551.NC1)

Justice Delayed

281 cases were reported in Volume 1, No. 1. 35 of these cases are still pending, five years later. This comes to 12% of the total, including the very first case in the first issue:

New York v. Parilli, et al. (NYC Mag. Ct.) Def.-pacifists refused to participate in air raid drill and seek shelter, arrested in front of NY City Hall while carrying placards describing drill as psychological buildup for war. Charge: violation of NY State Emergency Defense Act, Sec. 102, a misdemeanor. One Def. committed to Bellevue Psychiatric ward, the others held in $1500 bail each. Defs. challenged . . . statute as unlawful delegation of war power by Congress to States and unlawful suspension of Bill of Rights . . .

The Parilli case, now named People of New York ex rel. Hearn v. Muste, 57.1,* is presently pending before the United States Supreme Court.

Other cases instituted five or more years ago:

One cannot but wonder what has happened to all of the defendants fighting criminal charges which arose in the McCarthy Era and the plaintiffs seeking satisfaction for wrongs done then. Would the individuals and organizations have been indicted on the same charges in 1960? Is the law the same in 1960 as in 1955? Is the temper of juries the same? The outlook of judges? And what changes have taken place in the beliefs and associations of the individuals themselves? How many of the organizations under attack in 1955 have the same policies and members in 1960? In how many of these cases has justice delayed meant justice denied?

A Significant Slice of the Law

Some readers may be surprised to learn that 49 of the first 340 cases docketed in the U.S. Supreme Court this term (Oct. 1960) involve civil liberties or civil rights issues and are reported in the DOCKET.

The Mosaic Pattern

Some time ago, experts began to differentiate between "civil liberties" and "civil rights" — "civil liberties" covering those rights contained in the Bill of Rights, "civil rights" covering equal protection of the law regardless of race, color, national origin, or religion.

The DOCKET reports both civil liberties and civil rights cases. Each issue demonstrates again the impossibility of separating one from the other. Consider the First Amendment attacks against the right of the N.A.A.C.P to function as a civil rights organization (204.). Consider the First Amendment attacks against N.A.A.C.P. leaders who refuse to turn over membership lists (272.4, .10) and the Sixth Amendment attacks against N.A.A.C.P. attorneys who represent white clients (Tuckers, 373.8, .9). Consider the attacks against Highlander Folk School, an integrated private school in Tennessee (58.10, 244.6). And the libel actions against the New York Times for articles on segregation and tension in Alabama (61.9-61.12).

The mosaic formed by DOCKET cases also illuminates the First Amendment antecedents of several Fifth Amendments self-incrimination cases. Consider, e.g., the Lowenstein (teacher dismissal) case, just won in N.J. (342.3), and the unemployment compensation cases (346.)