Jun 2, 2016
Why did a black defense attorney, who fought against segregation in high school and battled racism in the courtroom, volunteer to defend the First Amendment rights of an Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?
David Baugh is a Richmond, Virginia-based attorney, who, while serving on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, volunteered to defend the Klansman Barry Elton Black’s right to burn a cross at a Klan rally. The case would eventually make its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States and set important First Amendment precedent.
Baugh believed Black’s ideas were repugnant. But he also believed strongly in the First Amendment and that the freedoms enshrined in that amendment needed to be protected.
“As I was growing up, my mother taught me that a principle or a moral isn’t really yours until it’s tested,” he told us.
This is the second episode in our two-part series on the topic of “defending my enemy,” which explores why people who vehemently oppose certain ideas nonetheless staunchly defend the right of others to express them.
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