1955 August 2

ACLU Wins Passports for Two Who Were Denied for No Reason and a Bad Reason


The ACLU announced on this day that it had won passports for two individuals who had been denied passports, one for no reason at all, and one for a bad reason.

Mrs. Ruth Maxfield, an American living in England with a passport that restricted her to that country, had been denied a passport for travel to Europe and India. The State Department gave “unspecified reasons” for the denial, and did not provide an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the denial. Mr. George W. Shepard, Jr., who had been previously employed by a farm federation in British East Africa, was denied a passport because he had allegedly “engaged in political affairs” on a previous visit there.

The two cases illustrated the arbitrary and often politically-based decision-making by the State Department with regard to passports during this period.

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

Read the ACLU FBI File (not the complete file): http://vault.fbi.gov/ACLU

Learn about the ACLU today: www.aclu.org

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