1968 June 14

Dr. Spock, Three Others Convicted of Conspiracy to Obstruct the Draft


Dr. Benjamin Spock and three co-defendants were convicted on this day of conspiracy to obstruct the draft during the Vietnam War. Author of Baby and Child Care (1946), Dr. Spock was the most famous pediatrician in the U.S. He first became an anti-nuclear weapons testing and then a vocal critic of the Vietnam War. Also convicted were Michael Ferber, Mitch Goodman, and Rev. William Sloane Coffin. Co-defendant Marcus Raskin was found not guilty.

One of the principal documents offered by the prosecution was “A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority,” published on September 27, 1967, a widely circulated statement that expressed perhaps better than any the moral revulsion against the Vietnam War by many of the war’s opponents. The convictions were subsequently reversed on appeal, although on largely technical grounds that did not reach the principal issues raised by the defense.

In addition to the Spock case, the Vietnam War created a number of civil liberties crises. They include (1) the lack of a Congressional Declaration of War as required by the Constitution (June 3, 1970); (2) threats to freedom of the press in the Pentagon Papers case (June 30, 1971); (3) spying on the anti-war movement by the CIA (August 15, 1967); (4) threats to freedom of expression, for example high school student protests (February 24, 1969); censorship of television programs (February 25, 1968); and directly and indirectly some of the events that led to the Watergate Scandal (May 9, 1969; January 27, 1972).

Read about the case: Jessica Mitford, The Trial of Dr. Spock (1969)

Watch Dr. Spock debate the Vietnam War: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVzM-efsxw0

Learn more: Lynn Bloom, Doctor Spock: Biography of a Conservative Radical (1972)

Learn more about the anti-Vietnam War movement: Thomas Powers, The War at Home: Vietnam and the American People, 1964–1968 (1973)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!