1952 January 13

Cold War: “The Black Silence of Fear”


U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, one of the greatest civil libertarians in the history of the Court, warned of “The Black Silence of Fear” due to the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War. His warning appeared on this day in a New York Times Sunday Magazine article. On the Court, Douglas and his colleague Hugo Black were the strongest defenders of civil liberties during the Cold War. They were the only two Justices, for example, to dissent in Dennis v. United States, decided on June 4, 1951. That decision upheld the convictions of a group of Communists arrested under the Smith Act, passed on June 29, 1940, which made it a crime to advocate the overthrow of the government.

Read the Times article: http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/HIUS316/mbase/docs/douglas.html

Also Read: Bruce Allen Murphy, Wild Bill: The Legend and Life of William O. Douglas (2003)

Watch a tribute to Justice Douglashttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OanBQfguLT0

Learn more about the Cold War: Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)

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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