Jul 29, 2021
Morris Ernst may be the most influential free speech lawyer you’ve never heard of. He was the longtime general counsel for the ACLU, helped found the National Lawyers Guild, and just about single-handedly whittled away at obscenity laws in the United States — even litigating the famous “Ulysses” case, which overturned a 13-year ban on James’ Joyce’s renowned novel.
But he was an enigma: A staunch anti-communist and sometimes red-baiter, a close confidant of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, an unofficial PR agent for the FBI, and, later in his life, a crusader against the relative sexual permissiveness of the 1960s and ‘70s.
On today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, we are joined by University at Buffalo School of Law Professor Samantha Barbas to discuss her new book, “The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst, Free Speech Renegade.”