1981 November 17

CBS Broadcasts Docudrama on Skokie Free Speech Controversy


The made-for-TV film, Skokie, broadcast on this evening by CBS television, is a fictionalized version of the 1976–1978 controversy over the right of American Nazi group to hold a demonstration in the heavily Jewish community of Skokie, Illinois.

When a small Nazi group sought a permit for a march in Skokie on October 4, 1976, and the ACLU agreed to defend its free speech rights, a national controversy erupted over the First Amendment and hate speech. After protracted litigation, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, on May 22, 1978, upheld the First Amendment rights of the Nazi group. It decided, however, not to march in Skokie and instead held a small rally in downtown Chicago on July 9, 1978.

Learn about the docudrama on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083090/

Read about the controversy: Philippa Strum, When the Nazis Came to Skokie (1999)

Learn more at a timeline of the Skokie controversy: http://www.skokiehistory.info/chrono/nazis.html

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the First Amendment rights of the Nazi group:Although we would have thought it unnecessary to say so, it apparently deserves emphasis in the light of the dissent’s reference to this court apologizing as to the result, that our regret at the use appellees’ plan to make of their rights is not in any sense an apology for upholding the First Amendment. The result we have reached is dictated by the fundamental proposition that if these civil rights are to remain vital for all, they must protect not only those society deems acceptable, but also those whose ideas it quite justifiably rejects and despises.”

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