Freund, Seavey Decry Move To Disbar All Communists
Two Law School professors agreed last night that expelling Communists from the Bar would be "a cure worse than the disease."
Paul A. Freund, Charles Stebbins Fairchild Professor of Law, and Warren A. Seavey, Bussey Professor of Law, said that the recent decision of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association to ban advocates of "Marxism-Leninism" from membership would do more harm than good. "The decision of the Association in counter to the best tradition of the law," Freund commented. "Individuals should be judged on their merits, not on the imputations judged to them."
Freund added that a lawyer might well shy away from defending a client of "dubious affiliation" if he felt his reputation might be damaged. "The new law would be a condemnation by labels--something the Bar ought to keep away from."
The phrase "Marxism-Leninism" as a criterion is an additional vice, according to Freund. "It is so vague as to be a cloud on legitimate economic and social beliefs. It has no relevance to a man's fitness for the Bar."
Seavey commented that a lawyer with Communistic leanings can take advantage of the "free and easy way of trying cases in America." He pointed to the recent trial of Communist leaders in New York as an example, but noted that the decision of the Bar Association might well lead to "witch hunts."
Letter of Protest
The Massachusetts and New York Bar Associations voted against the loyalty oath, Freund pointed out. Besides this, a group of 26 lawyers, among them Grenvlle Clark '03, sent a letter to the Association asking that the oath be thrown out. "The House of Delegates saw fit to disregard this letter," said Freund.
The check on lawyers would probably be effected, Freund said, by a periodic oath. This would be done through the supreme judicial court by recommendation of the State Bar Association.