1951 October 15

Corliss Lamont, Prominent Civil Libertarian, Denied Passport


Corliss Lamont, a prominent civil liberties activist, longtime member of the ACLU Board of Directors, and the founder of the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (see October 8, 1951), was on this day denied a passport because of his political views. He sued and eventually won his passport.

Lamont’s case was one of many in which prominent individuals were denied passports or visas during the Cold War because of their political views. See, for example, the cases involving famed African American singer Paul Robeson (August 4, 1950), the artist Rockwell Kent (August 7, 1950), and the noted scientist Linus Pauling (May 11, 1952). In a later civil liberties case, Lamont successfully challenged Post Office restrictions on mail from overseas sent to him; see Lamont v. Postmaster General, decided on May 24, 1965.

Learn more about Lamont: Corliss Lamont, Yes to Life: Memoirs of Corliss Lamont (1981)

Watch an interview with Lamont: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBnUXr9HWhM

Learn more about the right to travel: Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists (2013)

Learn more about the ACLU in the Cold War and other Times of National Crisis: https://www.aclu.org/aclu-history-rooting-out-subversives-paranoia-and-patriotism-mccarthy-era

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