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Kinoy Reveals How ACLU Tactics Squelched HUAC Attack on Dissent

By Stephen D. Lerner

Arthur Kinoy, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer and professor of Constitutional Law at Rutgers Law School, recounted his battle with the House Un-American Activities Committee before some 200 law students, last night in Austen Hall.

Kinoy was dragged by guards from the courtroom during an HUAC meeting last summer for "loud and boisterous interruptions." He and a number of other ACLU lawyers had obtained a temporary injunction against the hearing, but it was dissolved by a higher court.

The very fact that HUAC had just undergone what the Washington Post called "the most serious legal threat in its 30 stormy years of existence," Kinoy said, changed the tone of the hearing.

"As in all HUAC hearings, fear dominated, but this time it was on the other side. Faced with a rational, legal challenge to their existence," Kinoy continued, "HUAC had no other response except violence -- and that they aimed at a lawyer."

A change has taken place in the attitude of the American people towards HUAC as an institution because of this hearing, Kinoy asserted. "American people don't like to see little guys being kicked around," Kinoy (who is 5' 2") said, "and it's commendable sentiment." But the anti-HUAC response came mainly from people who felt that they had "gone too far this time," Kinoy explained.

For many people, Kinoy said, "understanding of the kind of forces which support HUAC came in a flash when they saw me being dragged out." HUAC must be totally eliminated "in order to protect people from the chewing effect that it has on the First Amendment rights of all of us."

Before the hearing, Kinoy explanied, the ACLU lawyers had been informed that it represented "only the beginning of a major attack on those forces which seriously questioned U.S. foreign and domestic policy."

"We had to decide if we were going to use the traditional civil liberties lawyer tactic of playing the defense, or try something more positive," Kinoy said.

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