Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge

Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge

by Marjorie Heins


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Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge by Marjorie Heins

Priests of Our
tells of the teachers and professors who battled the anti-communist witch hunt of the 1950s. It traces the political fortunes of academic freedom beginning in the late 19th century, both on campus and in the courts. Combining political and legal history with wrenching personal stories, the book details how the anti-communist excesses of the 1950s inspired the Supreme Court to recognize the vital role of teachers and professors in American democracy. The crushing of dissent in the 1950s impoverished political discourse in ways that are still being felt, and First
Amendment academic freedom, a product of that period, is in peril today. In compelling terms, this book shows why the issue should matter to everyone.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781479860609
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 12/22/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 373
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Marjorie Heins is a civil liberties lawyer, writer, and teacher, and the founding director of the Free Expression Policy Project. Her previous book, Not in Front of the Children, won the American Library Association’s 2002 Eli Oboler Award for best published work in the field of intellectual freedom. Other books include Sex, Sin, and Blasphemy: A Guide to America's Censorship Wars; Cutting the Mustard: Affirmative Action and the Nature of Excellence; and Strictly Ghetto Property: The Story of Los Siete de la Raza. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Prelude to the Deluge

1 "Sifting and Winnowing" 17

2 Radicalism and Reaction in the 1930s 31

3 Rapp-Coudert 51

Part II Teachers and Free Speech

4 The Board of Education and the Feinberg Law 69

5 Insubordination and "Conduct Unbecoming" 87

6 The Vinson Court 103

Part III The Purge Comes to Higher Education

7 The McCarran Committee and the City Colleges 127

8 "The Laughing-Stock of Europe" 144

9 The Moral Dilemma: Naming Names 162

Part IV The Supreme Court and Academic Freedom

10 Red Monday and Beyond 177

11 The Road to Keyishian 192

12 "A Pall of Orthodoxy over the Classroom" 209

Part V Politics, Repression, and the Future of Academic Freedom

13 "A Generation Stopped in Its Tracks" 225

14 Academic Freedom after Keyishian 239

15 September 11 and Beyond 252

Conclusion 269

Acknowledgments 285

Notes 287

Bibliography 327

Index 343

About the Author 363

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A fascinating read. Heins creatively blends social and legal history to show how the right to academic freedom was forged out of the struggles and passions of America’s worst days of political repression, and why academic freedom is more important than ever today.”-Nadine Strossen,former president, American Civil Liberties Union; professor, New York Law School

"In this insightful and illuminating history of academic freedom and the Constitution, Marjorie Heins brings to life the characters, controversies, and cases that have framed the evolution of this critical and contentious realm of American liberty."-Geoffrey R. Stone,Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago

"Combining the legal insights of a constitutional scholar with the archival diligence of an historian, Marjorie Heins has written the definitive study of the Supreme Court’s most important academic freedom decision. It’s an engrossing account of the assault on educators during the McCarthy era that should be required reading for anyone who values our increasingly endangered First Amendment rights."-Ellen Schrecker,Professor of History, Yeshiva University

"Marjorie Heins has given a human face to leading American controversies and cases about academic freedom, creatively integrating personal interviews and archival sources into her account of the developing law."-David Rabban,University Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas School of Law

"With clarity and insight Marjorie Heins brings to life a part of American history often overlooked despite its importance to our democracy today. The tension between individual freedom and national security is as taut as it ever has been. We have much to learn from our earlier mistakes in yielding too readily to claims of the latter. This compelling book, which brilliantly illuminates earlier Supreme Court decisions, and the people and events behind them, is a wonderful place to begin."-Margaret H. Marshall,former Chief Justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

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