1976 May 21

Morris L. Ernst, Pioneering Civil Liberties Attorney, Dies


Morris Ernst was a prominent civil libertarian attorney and writer who was most noted for his pioneering efforts against censorship and on behalf of reproductive rights and the right to privacy. He also wrote many books for a popular audience, including the first serious books attacking censorship: To the Pure: A Study of Obscenity and the Censor (with William Seagle, 1928); Censored: The Private Life of the Movies (with Pare Lorentz, 1930); The Censor Marches On (with Alexander Lindey, 1940). And with Alan U. Schwartz, he published one of the early books on privacy: Privacy: The Right to Be Let Alone (1962).

Ernst was a long-time member of the ACLU and its Co-General Counsel for many years. He was particularly noted as the attorney who won the case ending the censorship of James Joyce’s celebrated novel Ulysses on December 6, 1933.

Read Ernst’s 1945 autobiography: Morris Ernst, The Best is Yet . . .  (1945)

Learn more about Ernst’s pioneering role in challenging censorship: Leigh Ann Wheeler, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty (2013)

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