The Hughes Court and Radical Dissent: The Case of Dirk De Jonge and Angelo Herndon

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The Hughes Court and Radical Dissent: The Case of Dirk De Jonge and Angelo Herndon

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Title: The Hughes Court and Radical Dissent: The Case of Dirk De Jonge and Angelo Herndon
Author: Tushnet, Mark V.
Citation: Mark Tushnet, The Hughes Court and Radical Dissent: The Case of Dirk De Jonge and Angelo Herndon, 28 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 333 (2012).
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Abstract: Scattered Supreme Court decisions in the early twentieth century dealt with the Constitution’s protection of freedom of speech. Radical dissent over United States participation in World War I and the nation’s intervention against the Bolshevik revolution in Russia led the Court to its first sustained engagement with free speech cases. By the time Chief Justice Hughes took the center chair, the national government largely had abandoned its pursuit of radical dissenters, some of whom played large roles in the labor organizing that provided political support for the Roosevelt administration and, from 1935 to 1939, in the Communist Party’s “Popular Front” that aligned the Party and its members and sympathizers with the administration. The Depression gave capitalism’s critics more opportunities to organize, and state governments occasionally went through local “red scares,” prosecuting such critics—particularly members of the newly organized Communist Party—who then raised free speech defenses. Today we may be inclined to associate robust protection of civil liberties with the legacy of the Roosevelt Court after 1937. But, the Hughes Court at least cut away some of the underbrush before the Court’s transformation. After laying out the doctrinal background for the Hughes Court’s decisions in Part I, this Article examines Hughes Court decisions involving political radicals in Part II. The Court’s “conservatives” and “liberals” were less divided on issues of civil liberties than today’s readers might think. The conservatives may have felt the tug of a moderate libertarianism that affected their approach to constitutional law generally; the liberals the tug of advocacy for causes with which they shared some affinities even as they disagreed vigorously with radicals’ overall programs. And, constitutional doctrine mattered.
Published Version: http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/gsulr/vol28/iss2/2
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9667251

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