Friday, May 10, 2013

Heins, "Priests of Our Democracy"

New from New York University Press: Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge, by civil liberties lawyer Marjorie Heins. Here's a description from the Press:
In the early 1950s, New York City’s teachers and professors became the targets of massive investigations into their political beliefs and associations. Those who refused to cooperate in the questioning were fired. Some had undoubtedly been communists, and the Communist Party-USA certainly made its share of mistakes, but there was never evidence that the accused teachers had abused their trust. Some were among the most brilliant, popular, and dedicated educators in the city.

Priests of Our Democracy tells of the teachers and professors who resisted the witch hunt, those who collaborated, and those whose battles led to landmark Supreme Court decisions. It traces the political fortunes of academic freedom beginning in the late 19th century, both on campus and in the courts. Combining political and legal history with wrenching personal stories, the book details how the anti-communist excesses of the 1950s inspired the Supreme Court to recognize the vital role of teachers and professors in American democracy. The crushing of dissent in the 1950s impoverished political discourse in ways that are still being felt, and First Amendment academic freedom, a product of that period, is in peril today. In compelling terms, this book shows why the issue should matter to every American.
A few blurbs:
"In this insightful and illuminating history of academic freedom and the Constitution, Marjorie Heins brings to life the characters, controversies, and cases that have framed the evolution of this critical and contentious realm of American liberty." -- Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago

"Marjorie Heins has given a human face to leading American controversies and cases about academic freedom, creatively integrating personal interviews and archival sources into her account of the developing law." -- David Rabban, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas School of Law
The Introduction and Table of Contents are available here.