JUNE 20, 1957
NEW YORK—Just at this time, when many of us have felt that the individual was losing many of his rights, it is encouraging to note the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States upholding the Constitutional freedoms.
The court—at least the majority on it—seems to have redefined the ancient idea that its function is to guard the rights granted to our people in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This it has done in reversing the contempt conviction of John T. Watkins, labor leader, and the freeing of five California Communist leaders convicted under the Smith Act and the granting of a new trial for nine others.
I also am glad that, after his long fight, John Stewart Service, former foreign service officer, won a reversal of the judgment of the Court of Appeals which in June, 1956, held that Mr. Service had been rightfully dismissed as a security risk.
When you study the way the different court justices acted in reversing the Communist leaders' convictions, you find certain differences in their reasoning.
For instance, two of them, Justices William Black and William O. Douglas, felt that the Smith Act is unconstitutional. I have not the space to discuss the legal points, but I think it is well worth everyone's time to read the varied opinions.
I, for one, am glad that the court has handed down a decision which forever bars any Smith Act indictment under the "organize" section. The word "organize" was being construed in its narrow sense, meaning that simply bringing a Communist group into being was found to be a cause for indictment. The court held that the Communist party had been organized in its present form by 1945 at the latest and that, in 1951 when the indictment was brought against the leaders, the three-year statute of limitations had run out.
Another interesting news development of the past few days was the statement by Harold E. Stassen, head of the United States delegation to the London disarmament talks, that the U.S. will move toward the position of the Soviet Union in an effort to come to an agreement on banning nuclear weapon tests.
The British already have taken this position, so it looks as though this session of the disarmament conference will make some real progress.