1928 November 19

Supreme Court Upholds NY Restrictions on KKK and Similar Groups


In Bryant v. Zimmerman, decided on this day, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a New York law requiring organizations with 20 or more members to file their constitutions and membership lists with the state. The law in this case was part of a movement by states and cities to restrict the Ku Klux Klan, which had become a powerful organization in the 1920s. See the KKK’s March on Washington on August 8, 1925.

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the Supreme Court reversed itself and created a freedom of association under the First Amendment that upheld the right of the Alabama chapter of the NAACP not to disclose its membership lists. See NAACP v. Alabama on June 30, 1958. The Alabama law in that case was one of several passed by Southern states in the 1950s to restrict the NAACP and the civil rights movement as part of a program of “massive resistance” to racial integration. See, for example, the laws enacted in Virginia on September 29, 1956.

Watch the KKK in the 1920s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQJX8v0sC3Q

Read about the history of the Klan: David M. Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan, 3rd Ed. (1987)

Learn more: George Lewis, Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement (2006)

Learn more about the Klan today: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/ku-klux-klan

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