1929 July 30

Post Office Bars Pamphlets on Tom Mooney Case


The U.S. Post Office on this day banned from the mails 5,000 pamphlets published by the ACLU on the 1916 Tom Mooney case. Mooney was in prison, convicted for committing a bombing on Preparedness Day in July 1916, in San Francisco. Many labor union activists and civil libertarians argued that he was framed and was prosecuted because of his radical left-wing political associations. In barring the pamphlets from the mails, the Postmaster General stated that statements on the envelope contained phrases, such as “frame-up” and “a terrible indictment,” that violated the 1924 postal regulations allowing officials to bar materials that were “lewd, obscene, defamatory, or threatening.” Arthur Garfield Hays, ACLU General Counsel, argued that the words in question did not fit any of the terms of postal regulations.

The Mooney-Billings case (his co-defendant was Warren Billings) remained a controversy for just over two decades. Mooney was finally pardoned in 1939.

Learn more: Curt Gentry, Frameup: The Incredible Case of Tom Mooney and Warren Billings (1967)

Learn more about the case: http://web.archive.org/web/20090605000923/http://www.cresswellslist.com/ballots2/mooney.htm

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