Priests of Our Democracy
The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge
by Marjorie Heins
Pub Date 04 Feb 2013
Priests of Our
Democracy tells of the teachers and professors who
battled the anti-communist witch hunt of the 1950s. 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 everyone.
“A fascinating read. Heins creatively blends social and legal history to show how the right to academic freedom was forged out of the struggles and passions of America’s worst days of political repression, and why academic freedom is more important than ever today.”
-Nadine Strossen, former president, American Civil Liberties Union; Professor, New York Law School
"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, Professor of Law, University of Chicago; author of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime
"Combining the legal insights of a constitutional scholar with the archival diligence of an historian, Marjorie Heins has written the definitive study of the Supreme Court’s most important academic freedom decision. It’s an engrossing account of the assault on educators during the McCarthy era that should be required reading for anyone who values our increasingly endangered First Amendment rights."
-Ellen Schrecker, Professor of History, Yeshiva University; author of No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities
"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, Professor, University of Texas School of Law; author of Free Speech in its Forgotten Years
"With clarity and insight Marjorie Heins brings to life a part of American history often overlooked despite its importance to our democracy today. The tension between individual freedom and national security is as taut as it ever has been. We have much to learn from our earlier mistakes in yielding too readily to claims of the latter. This compelling book, which brilliantly illuminates earlier Supreme Court decisions, and the people and events behind them, is a wonderful place to begin."
-Margaret H. Marshall, former Chief Justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court