1938 August 6

Top Labor Union Lawyer Denounces American Bar Association


Lee Pressman, General Counsel for the C.I.O. (Congress of Industrial Organizations, rival of the AFL until they merged), on this day denounced the American Bar Association (ABA) for its many anti-civil liberties activities and associations.

Pressman criticized the ABA because: (1) some of its prominent leaders are general counsel to corporations engaged in “industrial espionage” (a widely used term in those days for spying on and disrupting labor unions); (2) it had remained silent in the 1920s about the Sacco-Vanzetti case, in which the two immigrant anarchists were convicted and executed for murder despite questionable legal procedures; its membership applications require applicants to specify whether they are white, Indian, Negro or Mongolian, and anyone unable to demonstrate that he or she is white is denied membership; and other anti-civil liberties activities.

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