Honoring Lynne Stewart
by Stephen Lendman
Just societies erect statues to do so. They bestow tributes. America persecutes its best. Lynne is a longtime human rights champion. She deserves high praise, not punishment.
She remains unjustifiably imprisoned. She’s there for her powerful advocacy. She devoted her professional life to defending society’s most disadvantaged. She did it because it matters.
She’s dying. She has Stage Four cancer. Prison authorities denied her request for compassionate release. Duplicitous reasons were given. A second request was submitted. No action so far was taken.
Obama wants her dead. A stroke of his pen could release her straightaway. Compassion isn’t his long suit. Nor is justice.
On November 13, Rutgers School of Law honored Lynne. She received the Arthur Kinoy Award. Imprisonment kept her from accepting it in person. More on the giant of a man it represents below.
Lynne commented on her Rutgers Law School days. She “showed up in September 1971.” It was weeks before her 32nd birthday. She “embarked on (her) legal career” later than most other students.
At the time, she was a New York City librarian. In the 1960s, she and likeminded activists lost educational bureaucratic battles. She decided to wage them and others legally.
She attend Rutgers School of Law. She showed up “all but broke,” she said. She got what her grandchildren call a “free ride.” Admissions liked her “militant background.”
Orientation day featured Arthur Kinoy. His voice wasn’t memorable, said Lynne. But “(o)h! his words” were powerful “so long ago.”
Lynne called him a “Civil, Human Rights warrior and Innovator and Creative Force of the Law.” More on him below.
She “came home that day with (her) heart and mind full of dreams – all inspired by Arthur.”
He lit the flame. It flourishes in Lynne to this day. She’s undaunted. She’s totally committed for justice.
Shortly after her unjustifiable 2002 arrest, Kinoy spoke at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law. It’s named after Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo (1870 – 1938).
In 1932, he succeeded Oliver Wendell Holmes. At the time, The New York Times said “seldom, if ever, in the history of the Court has an appointment been so universally commended.”
Democrat Senator Clarence Dill called Hoover’s appointment “the finest act of his career as president.”
He was considered one of the Court’s “Three Musketeers.” The others were Louis Brandeis and Harlan Stone. They represented the Court’s liberal wing.
Kinoy’s 2002 address, said Lynne, “reminded us all that cases like (hers) are won not only in the courts but on the streets.”
“Still true today,” she added. “(E)specially for her.” Kinoy honored her. He did so by calling her a “People’s Lawyer.” It was his “highest praise,” said Lynne.
Coming from him it mattered. Lynne said she wasn’t a great student or scholar. She got “mediocre grades except (in) classes (she) loved, Kinoy, Slocum, Smith.”
She graduated, passed the bar, failed the first time, tried again, succeeded, “and the rest is history,” she said.
Her trial lawyer career fulfilled (her) great desire for joinder against the State on behalf of the downtrodden, oppressed – and (she) loved it.”
She “still can’t pass those courthouses (where she) worked for 30 years with a dry eye.”
She yearns for freedom. It remains elusive. She doesn’t want to die in prison. She wants to go home. She deserves proper medical treatment prison authorities deny her.
She wants “to dedicate (herself) to the next phase of (her) life.” She wants to continue her fight for justice.
She has lots on her mind to do. She wants all political prisoners released. She wants to be part of “the cause of women in prison and the inequities they and their children face.”
“Mostly” she wants to “be able to speak to new would-be lawyers” beginning their careers. She wants to “rouse their hearts and souls” to pursue justice.
She wants to inspire them the way Kinoy inspired her. He was small physically. He was a giant of a man. He was a human and civil rights champion.
He was born on September 20, 1920. On September 19, 2003, he died. It was one day short of his 83rd birthday. In 1966, he co-founded the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).
It’s “dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
It’s “committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.”
It uses litigation proactively. It does so “to empower poor communities and communities of color, to guarantee the rights of those with the fewest protections and least access to legal resources.”
It’s involved in training the next generation of constitutional and human rights lawyers. It prioritizes justice. It does so for those most often denied it.
It’s in the forefront “defending progressive movements for social change and devising new strategies to ensure that fundamental rights are (assured for) the many and not just the few.”
Kinoy was a dedicated human and civil rights defender. He was an active National Lawyers Guild (NLG) member throughout most of his adult life. He twice served as national vice president.”
He litigated numerous groundbreaking cases. In the 1950s, he challenged unjustifiable red-baiting. He and others founded Columbia Law School’s first NLG student chapter.
It was progressive. It was responsibly left wing. It opposed Cold War loyalty oaths. It resisted congressional witch-hunt investigations.
In 1950, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) called NLG the “legal bulwark of the Communist Party.”
Kinoy fought legal and political battles with Joe McCarthy. He called him one of America’s “most vicious, brutal public figures this country ever experienced.”
He maliciously called people communists. He did so to advance his career. He did enormous damage to fundamental freedoms. He represented fascism.
Kinoy cited Huey Long once saying when it arrives, it’ll be wrapped in the American flag. McCarthy represented the worst of US governance in his day.
Kinoy challenged him and other extremists. He did what few others dared try. He was legal counsel for the communist-labeled United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.
His 11th hour appeal on behalf of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg failed. On June 19, 1953, they were executed. They died at New York’s Sing Sing Prison.
They were victims of Cold War hysteria. Others unjustifiably saw good careers ruined. America has a long history of injustice. Kinoy courageously battled to change things.
He vigorously defended anti-war students and other activists subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
In August 1966, chairman Edwin Willis challenged Kinoy’s vigorous argument. He did so lawlessly. He ordered three federal marshal to forcibly remove him.
A notable New York Times front page photo helped turn public opinion against witch-hunt proceedings. An accompanying report headlined “Lawyer Ejected by House Inquiry; Seven Walk Out.”
The Times described a “riotous session.” It called Kinoy “a small but scrappy man.” He was charged with disorderly conduct. It was for doing his job responsibly.
The ACLU head and six other lawyers protested what happened. They refused to participate in an “atmosphere of terror and intimidation.”
Kinoy supported Southern civil rights activists. He helped found the Mississippi legal office. It was involved in the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign.
Perhaps his most famous case followed the 1968 Democrat National Convention. He, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass represented the Chicago Seven.
Chicago police are notoriously vicious. They confronted anti-war activists violently. They acted without restraint.
During George McGovern’s nominating speech, Senator Abe Ribicoff interrupted him. He denounced what he called “Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago.”
Chicago Seven defendants were unjustifiably charged with crossing state lines to incite a riot, conspiracy, and other alleged crimes.
They included David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Bobby Seale.
Sixteen unindicted co-conspirators were named. A tumultuous trial followed. All seven defendants and attorneys were cited multiple times for contempt.
On February 18, 1970, all defendants were exonerated on conspiracy charges. Two were completely acquitted. The others were convicted of crossing state lines with intent to incite a riot.
On November 21, 1972, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed all convictions.
It did so because Judge Julius Hoffman refused to let defense attorneys screen prospective jurors for potential cultural and racial bias.
Justice Department prosecutors dropped the case. They decided not to retry it. A different judge heard contempt charges.
He found Dellinger, Rubin, Hoffman and Kunstler guilty on some counts. He chose not to pronounce sentences or fines.
From 1964 to 1992, Kinoy taught at Rutgers School of Law – Newark. At the same time, he successfully argued several cases before the US Supreme Court.
Dombrowski v. Pfister (1965) was notable. Dr. James Dombrowski challenged Louisiana’s governor.
He claimed members of his Southern Conference Educational Fund were harassed and arrested without intent to prosecute. They supported oppressed Southern Blacks denied civil rights.
A three-judge federal district court dismissed his case. It claimed he failed to show evidence of irreparable damage. It cited the abstention doctrine.
It pertains to refusing to hear cases potentially intruding on the powers of another court. It dismissed Dombrowski out of hand. It refused to rule on what it called constitutional questions.
Kinoy appealed directly to the Supreme Court. He did so under then-operational procedures. The High Court overturned the lower ruling. It did so for its “chilling effect” on First Amendment Rights.
Earl Warren was chief justice. He ruled with the majority. He was joined by William Brennan, William Douglas, Byron White and Arthur Goldberg. Hugo Black and Potter Stewart abstained from ruling.
Besides activism, teaching, and notable litigation, Kinoy wrote important articles. They impacted legal thought and education.
His article 1969 titled “The Present Crisis in American Legal Education” influenced the growth of clinical legal education nationwide.
In 1970, he, Professor Frank Askin, and then Professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped establish an extensive clinical program.
Kinoy called its mission an initiative to produce “a new breed of lawyers characterized by their compassion, competence and commitment to the cause of equal justice and positive social change.”
He inspired Lynne Stewart. She loved his classes. She called him “my hero.” Many others felt the same way. He’s sorely missed.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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