Thursday, July 21, 2011

The DC Circuit in the McCarthy Era

[Earlier I noted an event sponsored by the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, entitled "The DC Circuit in the McCarthy Era: United States v. Lattimore."  A video of the session is now available.  Here is the Society description of the event:]

A ruling by a federal judge in the D.C. Circuit – a former governor of Minnesota – almost single-handedly in the mid-1950s began to turn the judicial tide against the “red scare” generated by Senator Joseph McCarthy and others, according to a panel presented by the Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit . District Judge Luther Youngdahl rejected government efforts to try Asia scholar Owen Lattimore for perjury in denying he had never been a sympathizer or promoter of Communism or Communist interests, saying the charge was “so nebulous and indefinite” that a jury would have to “indulge in speculation” to arrive at a verdict. The Court of Appeals ultimately sustained the dismissal in a 4-4 vote.

In a reenactment of the argument on a motion to dismiss the indictment, Arnold & Porter attorney G. Duane (Bud) Vieth represented Lattimore. Miguel Estrada of Gibson, Dunn &; Crutcher argued for the government. DLA Piper attorney Berl Bernhard, who clerked for Judge Youngdahl, portrayed the judge. George Mason University Professor Martin J. Sherwin and former Chief Judge Patricia Wald described the McCarthy era and history of the case to set the stage for the argument. Professor Daniel Ernst was the moderator..

Lattimore was raised in China where his parents taught English. He was editor of the journal Pacific Affairs and an advisor to Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek. After China fell to the Communists, Lattimore was among those accused of aiding the Communists. Lattimore endured 13 acrimonious days testifying before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and was subsequently indicted on seven counts of perjury. Lattimore was represented pro bono by former D.C. Circuit Judge Thurman Arnold, Abe Fortas, and Paul Porter, among others.