Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The D.C. Circuit in the McCarthy Era: United States v. Lattimore

[Because I recently attended a planning session that has left me quite excited about this event, I'm moving this post up from last month.]

The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit and the Litigation Section of the District of Columbia Bar Present The D.C. Circuit in the McCarthy Era: United States v. Lattimore, to be held Thursday, May 12, 2011, from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the Ceremonial Courtroom, 6th Floor, E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, 3rd Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

In 1952, during the height of McCarthyism, Owen Lattimore was indicted on seven counts of perjury before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, including testimony that “he had never been a sympathizer or any other kind of promoter of Communism or Communist interests.” Lattimore was represented pro bono by former D.C. Circuit Judge Thurman Arnold, Abe Fortas, and Paul Porter; the United States by U.S. Attorney Leo Rover. Lattimore moved to dismiss. District Judge Luther Youngdahl dismissed four counts. The Court of Appeals, en banc, sustained the dismissal of two counts and reversed on two counts. The Government re-indicted Lattimore in a single count which Judge Youngdahl dismissed. The Court of Appeals sustained the dismissal by a 4-4 vote.

This program will include a reenactment of the arguments presented to Judge Youngdahl on the Motion to Dismiss. Following this reenactment, a panel of all the participants will discuss the role of the courts in national security cases at mid-century and the relevance of that history today

The McCarthy Era and the State of the Nation in the 1950s
Martin Sherwin, Professor, George Mason University

Legal History of the Lattimore Case
Patricia M. Wald, former Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

G. Duane (Bud) Vieth, Arnold & Porter
Miguel Estrada, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
Berl Bernhard, DLA Piper and law clerk to Judge Youngdahl

Panel Discussion
Daniel R. Ernst, Georgetown University Law Center

Image credit: Owen Lattimore, with Abe Fortas


dah said...

The Minnesota Historical Society has many of the Youngdahl papers, and they include about 400 hundred (as I recall) letters, notes and postcards (many written anomalously) to the Judge after his Lattimore rulings. They are an astonishing mix of hate-mail, a few compliments from elected officials and law professors, and much more of the same from the public in all parts of the country. The name-calling did not seem to bother the Judge because he save all the correspondence.


dah said...

Postscript to my earlier comment:

While researching his book "Owen Lattimore and the 'Loss' of China," Robert P. Newman interviewed the Judge, and taped it. Very interesting, especially the Judge's comments about the prosecution.

Two characteristics about Judge Youngdahl that the panel may keep in mind because they help understand why he did not buckle under to the hysteria: One, he was deeply religious, and in fact a book was written about his faith years later. Second, he had an enormous amount of self-confidence. He ran for district court judge, and own; then for a seat on the state suprme court, and won again; and then won two elections for governor. He never lost an election. No election was even close.


Dan Ernst said...

Thanks for your comments, dah. I and the other participants have found them fascinating.