1953 August 27

A.G. Brownell Calls Lawyers Guild “Legal Mouthpiece” of the Communist Party


Attorney General Herbert Brownell on this day declared the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) the “legal mouthpiece” of the Communist Party. The Lawyers Guild had been attacked for Communist associations since it was founded, on February 20, 1937, as a left-liberal alternative to the conservative American Bar Association. It was attacked by HUAC in 1944 as a “Communist front organization.”

Brownell’s statement set in motion a long but ultimately unsuccessful effort by the Justice Department to have the Lawyers Guild included on the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations. The Lawyers Guild Fought back, and the Justice Department finally abandoned the effort on September 11, 1958. As a result of the attacks during the Cold War, the NLG lost members and was severely weakened. It is still active today on civil liberties, civil rights, and other issues.

Go to the Guild’s web site: http://www.nlg.org/

Learn more: Ann Fagan Ginger and Eugene Tobin, eds., The National Lawyers Guild: From Roosevelt Through Reagan (1988)

Learn more about the Cold War: Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)

See the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations as of 1955: http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/US_Attorney_General%E2%80%99s_list_of_subversive_organizations_(1955)

Watch an oral history interview with Brownell: http://series.c-span.org/Events/Oral-Histories-Former-Attorney-General-Herbert-Brownell/10737439282/

Read Brownell’s official Justice Department biography (with links to his speeches):  http://www.justice.gov/ag/aghistpage.php?id=61

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