1965 February 15

ACLU Criticizes Planned Investigation of KKK by HUAC


The ACLU on this day protested a planned federal investigation of the Ku Klux Klan by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). HUAC was also considering investigating the Black Muslims, the right-wing Minutemen, and the American Nazi Party. The ACLU condemned acts of violence by the Klan, and said that its own principles were “directly counter” to those of the Klan.

The ACLU had protested HUAC investigations of the beliefs and associations of both groups and individuals since the committee was created in 1938. It first argued that the First Amendment protects the rights of totalitarian groups of both the left and the right, including fascists, on April 30, 1934. The ACLU provoked a national controversy in the 1970s when it defended the right of a Nazi group to hold a protest in the predominantly Jewish community of Skokie, Illinois (October 4, 1976).

Read about the history of the Klan: David M. Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan, 3rd Ed. (1987)

See documents on the KKK in the 1920s (photos; 78 rpm records, etc.):

Learn about the history of the ACLU: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Learn more about hate speech: Samuel Walker, Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy (1994)

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