1939 January 26

New York State Bar Association Creates Civil Liberties Committee


The New York State Bar Association on this day created a special committee to investigate violations of civil liberties. During the period of 1939 to 1941, many Americans for the first time realized the meaning of the Bill of Rights in a world of totalitarianism, including Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. The American Bar Association also created a Bill of Rights Committee, on August 14, 1938. Prior to this period, bar associations had expressed little interest in protecting civil liberties.

Learn more about this critical period in American history and its impact on civil liberties: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

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