Jewish Champions of First Amendment
DavidEBernstein at aol.com
DavidEBernstein at aol.com
Sun Sep 10 20:49:38 PDT 2006
None of the folks Paul listed who were members of the Communist Party or were
otherwise adherents of totalitarian ideologies could reasonably be called
"champions of the First Amendment," though they were certainly willing to use (or
abuse, in some cases, by making claims about themselves and the motives for
prosecution that they knew to be false) the First Amendment to their advantage
when it suited their interests. But by that standard, many Grand Wizards of
the KKK, not to mention the head of the American Nazi Party during the Skokie
case, were "champions of the First Amendment."
And here's a candidate that no one else is likely to bring up: the
Lubavitcher Rebbe, who encouraged his disciples to put up displays related to Jewish
holidays in public places, breaking the traditions of the traditional Jewish
establishment who on the one hand were concerned about church-state issues, but
also, I'm afraid, thought it was too "aggressive" for Jews to be trumpeting
their religion in the public sphere. Unlike the vast majority of the other
candidates, the Rebbe did not just happen to be Jewish by birth, but his motivation
for championing a First Amendment right (free exercise) was specifically
Jewish. And I believe his movement, Chabad, had to fight many court battles when
their displays were challenged when they were on public property.
Also, I'm not sure of what Felix Frankfurter's specific views on the First
Amendment were, but if "champion of the First Amendment" means "someone who care
deeply that the First Amendment, as he understood it, was properly applied,"
he would likely qualify. If it means, "someone who thought the First
Amendment should be interpreted expansively in ways that please modern liberal
sensibilities," then I think the definition doesn't quite match the phrase.
In a message dated 9/10/2006 10:19:33 PM Eastern Standard Time,
pfink at albanylaw.edu writes:
Mnay litigants: Gitlow, Feiner (of Feiner v NY); Cohen (of Cohen v.
California); one of the plaintiffs although not the lead plaintiff if
Engle v. Vitale; Abrams (already mentioned) and I believe Schenck (but
don't hold me to that one); Ralph Ginsburg (hard to imagine the court
upheld his conviction); Jerry Rubin and Abby Hoffman (and others of the
Chicago 7); some of the Foley Square trial convicted with Dennis; the
Rosenbergs (if you think they were really tried and executed for being
Communists; not if you think they were really executed for giving the
H-Bomb to the Soviets); Bill Kuntsler (and for anti-free speech Judge
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