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Vol. VII, No. 2
February, 1962

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Full Circle for 1,486 Defendants

Since World War I, and especially since World War II, Congress and the several states have passed — in gay profusion — laws making it a crime to advocate the overthrow of the government by force and violence, and requiring oaths not to overthrow the government by force and violence or to join organizations which so advocate. This legislation supplemented laws prohibting insurrection, acts of treason, and other seditious acts. It was based upon the premise that certain political and social ideas are alien to the United States and that advocates of these ideas must be dominated by a foreign power. The line of decisions has grown from U.S. v. Debs and California v. Mooney and Billings (312.27) to U.S. v. Communist Party (211.1a) and Elfbrandt v. Arizona Bd. of Education (223.3).

Political radicals and legal conservatives have joined in arguing to the courts that enforcement of this legislation will not be limited to the political ideas of socialism and communism, that it will be used also against social and religious ideas: pacifism and racial integration. In 1956, Alabama sought to outlaw the N.A.A.C.P. (204.1a); it finished this task in January, 1962. In February, 1962, Alabama began similar proceedings against CORE. In February, Louisiana also began its attack on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) through allegations that Negro and white leaders of that organization are guilty of criminal anarchy and that it "is known to the offenders to advocate, teach and practice opposition to the Government of Louisiana by unlawful means" (Louisiana v. Zellner, McDew, Diamond, Moore, 54.2-54.4).

The very names and actions of CORE and SNCC demonstrate the native American and nonviolent nature of their protest. Yet the charges against the organizations and their members are the same charges used against political reformers seeking other social changes: trespass, contempt, disorderly conduct, parading without a license, contributing to the delinqueny of minors, vagrancy, failure to obey a policeman's order, and now, criminal anarchy. (See cases at 51., 54., 55., 58., 59.)

While the federal government has increasingly supported certain aspects of the struggle for equal rights, it has continued to enforce repressive legislation against political radicals and their associations. (See cases at 211., 212., 244.1, 291.6, 334.5.) Where the federal government goes into court as amicus or plaintiff to protect the rights of individual southern Negroes and their organizations, it will be faced with precedents set in cases in which it prosecuted northern political dissenters.

The neat divisions between civil liberties (reported at 10.-295. in this DOCKET) and civil rights (reported at 500.-600.) have utterly vanished. Of the 628 cases reported in this issue, 365 relate to the struggle for integration, and 55 of these cases are reported in the civil liberties and due process sections.

So we have come full circle, and the indivisibility of civil liberties and civil rights will be tested in the trials of the one thousand four hundred eighty-six persons arrested in the past four months for participating in civil rights demonstrations.

Will You Help Write a Book

The National Lawyers Guild, at its convention in Detroit, established a special committee to assist southern lawyers in civil rights-integration litigation. One of the projects undertaken by the committee is the preparation of a Handbook on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Law, to include: digests of significant cases, sample pleadings, suggestions on procedure, excerpts from memos and briefs, excerpts from recent opinions.

The Handbook is planned as a tool for the busy attorney who wants to handle his civil liberties and civil rights cases more efficiently. It will be a looseleaf service based on the DOCKET classification system to make the materials easily accessible.

This issue of the DOCKET again proves that the struggle for equal rights for Negroes guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment leads to arrests for the exercise of First Amendment rights: the right to picket, to parade, to associate together, to organize CORE and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the right to advocate the nonviolent overthrow of the institution of segregation. Procedural due process, guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, is also intricately involved in many civil rights cases. The Handbook will therefore include cases and materials in these areas (reported in the DOCKET at 10.-295., 300-.495.).

The Handbook will be based upon papers filed in recent and pending cases. Will you please go through your own files and send any materials you think might be helpful to other lawyers practicing in this field to CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET, 1908 Virginia St., Berkeley 9, California.


Dec. 11, 1961: majority holding oath unconstitutional in Cramp, 290.15: "It would be blinking reality not to acknowledge that there are some among us always ready to affix a Communist label upon those whose ideas they violently oppose. And experience teaches that prosecutors too are human."

Dec. 11, 1961: minority arguing that Taft-Hartley oath is unconstitutional in Killian, 291.6: "The fact that one believes in peace, disarmament, a ban on nuclear testing, or the disbandment of NATO may put him out of step with the majority. But unless we toss to the winds the tolerance which a Free Society shows for unorthodox, as well as orthodox, views, the fact that a person embraces lawful views of the [Communist] party should not establish that he is a 'member' of the party within the meaning of the Act."

Can the majority opinions be reconciled?

1908 Virginia Street
Berkeley 9, California
Enclosed please find my check for $7.50 for Vol. VII (Nos. 1-4) of the CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET.
[$2.50 for students.]

Abbreviations Used in DOCKET

Citations Given in Docket

Citations are given to U. S. Reports of U. S. Supreme Court decisions; to Federal Reports, Second Series (F. 2d) of U. S. Court of Appeals decisions; and to Federal Supplement Reports (F. Supp.) of U.S. District Court decisions. Citations for state court decisions are given either by state reports or sectional reports (e.g., Mich., or Northwest 2d (NW 2d)). Citations are given in chronological order. Some cases are not reported in the official reports.

Citations to law reviews are standard (e.G., Yale L. Jour.—Yale Law Journal). Race Relations Law Reporter cited as RRLR.

Courts and Appellate Procedure


The majority of cases filed in federal courts start in District Courts (e.g., SD NY), are appealed to Courts of Appeals (CA 2), then to the United States Supreme Court (U.S.S.C.). Some go directly from 3-judge federal courts at the DC level to the U.S.S.C. Some cases go directly from administrative agencies to the CA DC.

When the U.S.S.C. agrees to hear a case, it either grants a petition for certiorari, or notes probable jurisdiction on an appeal. Occasionally the U.S.S.C. "postpones consideration of jurisdiction to argument on the merits", i.e., agrees to hear an appeal, waiting to decide whether or not it will finally rule on the merits of the case until after the argument.

When the U.S.S.C. declines to hear a case, it either denies a petition for certiorari or dismisses an appeal.

When an appellate court remands a case, it sends it back to a lower court for further proceedings in conformity with the appellate court's decision.


The number of appellate courts in the several states varies, as do the names of the courts. In many states there are three levels: county courts of general jurisdiction, called Circuit Courts; District Courts of Appeals; the State Supreme Court. [Variations: in Ohio the county court is called the Court of Common Pleas; in California, the Superior Court. In New York, the county court is called the Supreme Court; the appellate courts are: Supreme Court, Appellate Division and Court of Special Sessions, Appellate Term; the highest court is the New York Court of Appeals.]

City courts may be called Magistrate's, Municipal, Recorder's, or City courts.