1938 August 14

ABA Creates Bill of Rights Committee


The American Bar Association, the principal professional association of American lawyers, having ignored civil liberties since its founding, created a special committee to defend the Bill of Rights. With Grenville Clark as chair, the committee filed amicus briefs in several important Supreme Court cases, including Hague v. CIO (June 5, 1939) and cases involving the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The creation of the Bill of Rights Committee was part of an important shift in American attitudes about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights from 1939 to 1941, largely as a result of awareness of totalitarianism in Germany, the Soviet Union, and Japan. The Bill of Rights Committee functioned for only a few years before fading away during World War II.

Read about the rediscovery of Americanism in American literature in the late 1930s: Alfred Kazin, On Native Grounds (1942)

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