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SSRN Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Vol 9, No 1

The year's first issue of our SSRN Research Paper series features publications from Professors Jordan, Powell, Rothstein, and Warren.

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Law Library spotlights Louisville's role in civil rights trial

 

 

In October, the Brandeis School of Law’s Allen Court Room hosted a reenactment of the sensationalized Carl Braden trial of 1954, in which Braden was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sedition after he and his wife Anne purchased a home for an African American family in the Louisville area that is now Shively. The reenactment was part of a series of events to mark the 60th anniversary of the Wade/Braden story, which quickly became a formative event for Louisville and the nation as citizens grappled with a fledgling Civil Rights movement. 

To commemorate the trial – and the events leading up to it – UL’s Law Library is featuring the exhibit, “Black Freedom, White Allies & Red Scare: Louisville, 1954.” The closing date is set for Jan. 30. 

Also on that day, Professors Laura Rothstein and Jamie Abrams will host their classes in the library where Cate Fosl, director of the UofL Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, will provide an overview of the exhibit and historical context about the Braden/Wade story. Fosl is also Anne Braden’s biographer and her book, “Subversive Southerner” was a co-winner of the Oral History Association’s Book Award in 2003.

Sedition charges

The historical context essentially begins in March of 1954 when Andrew and Charlotte Wade ask whites Carl and Anne Braden to help purchase a home after realtors repeatedly refused to sell to the African American family. The Bradens closed on a home in what is now Shively in May and hand the keys over to the Wades who were the only African Americans in the neighborhood. 

Shortly after their move-in date, the Wade house was bombed and crosses were burned on the lawn. 

Carl and Anne Braden were subsequently accused of staging the purchase and bombing as part of a communist plot to take over the state government.

The case went to trial and Carl Braden was charged with sedition. At the time, working for racial integration was interpreted by many Southern whites to be an embrace of communism.  Braden was sentenced to 15 years and served eight months.

Unable to live in the damaged house and still facing harassment, the Wades, who had a toddler and a newborn at the time, moved out of their house.  

Following the trial, the Bradens continued to fight for social justice, supporting civil rights, desegregation and labor issues, among other efforts. They were both arrested numerous times while protesting and landed on the FBI investigation list because of their alleged ties to the Communist party. 

Carl Braden died in 1975. Prior to her death in 2006, Anne Braden was the University of Louisville’s first visiting scholar in Race and Gender Studies. 

The exhibit and its significance

The exhibit itself features photos and archival materials from the home purchase, the trial Carl Braden’s imprisonment, the years following the case and the events of the era that strongly influenced the case. The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, the University of Louisville Archives & Special Collections, Louisville Free Public Library and Courier-Journal Media.

Robin Harris, public services librarian and professor of legal bibliography, said the exhibit is a good example of UL’s commitment to diversity. 

“Well before the topic of diversity became mainstream, the university was working on it and the law school in particular has been a leader in diversity efforts for more than 20 years. All of the deans have been committed,” Harris said. “This exhibit is not only a good example of that, but also a good example of its commitment to interdisciplinary studies.” 

The interdisciplinary angle comes from Fosl, who is a faculty member in the women’s and gender studies program within the College of Arts and Science. 

Harris adds that, from a historical perspective, the exhibit also provides a powerful narrative about a “seminal event” in Louisville and US history. 

“It’s been 60 years since this happened and it’s really important for people of all ages to know about this trial, from the purchase to the bombing to the trial, particularly from a law perspective,” Harris said. “We’re fortunate to have it here on display. It’s a fitting tribute to the role that Louisville had in the Civil Rights movement.” 

More information about the story is available on NPR’s “Here and Now,” available online.

The exhibit will next appear at the White Privilege Conference, March 11-15 at Louisville’s Galt House. 

Black Freedom, White Allies & Red Scare: Louisville, 1954

The Law Library is proud to be hosting the exhibit, “Black Freedom, White Allies & Red Scare: Louisville, 1954,” thanks to the generosity of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research. This fascinating and moving chronicle of events leading up to and including Carl and Anne Braden’s sedition trial will be open to everyone through January 23, 2015.

If you did not see the exhibit when it was housed at the Louisville Free Public Library during the fall of 2014, you have another chance! Please stop by the Reading Room during any of the library’s operating hours.  And if you want to know more about the Braden’s story, the NPR show “Here and Now” recently ran a detailed story on the 60th anniversary of the case. 

Read more in "Law Library spotlights Louisville's role in civil rights trial".


 

SSRN Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Vol 8, No 6

The sixth and final issue of our SSRN Research Paper series this year features articles covering issues in healthcare, environmental law, and legal education.
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Exhibit: Campaigning against The Court: The Supreme Court and Popular Politics, 1916-2014

In recent years it seems that every nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court leads to partisan controversy. This exhibit displays political memorabilia from the collection of Professor Kurt Metzmeier that documents some of the most recent controversies.  Also included are some buttons from the pre-Court political careers of justices, a button urging the election of a sitting justice as president, and humorous objects gently mocking the dignity of the Supreme Court.

While appointments to the Court had always stirred interest in legal circles, it wasn’t until the nomination of “the people’s lawyer” Louis D. Brandeis to the court that the nation saw an active campaign against a justice. Still, that nomination was somewhat of a special case, as Brandeis had stirred up unusual distaste among the banking and railroad trusts. Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s frequent battles with the Supreme Court did not lead to organized campaigns against his nominees.  This is surprising since most early justices were drawn from political life and many had served as governors, senators, and even, in the case of William Howard Taft, president. Indeed, the only political activity involving Supreme Court justices until the late 20th century was an occasional convention boomlet to draft one of justices to run for the presidency. (William O. Douglas perhaps was the last sitting justice to entertain such dreams).

 The first attempt by an organized political group to set its sights on a member of the Supreme Court was the conservative John Birch Society’s billboard campaign to impeach sitting Chief Justice Earl Warren for the perceived liberalism of his court. However, it was President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of conservative scholar Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1986 that set off the first full-scale campaign against a nominee; one that would lead to the word “Borking” being entered in the dictionary as a term for the process of defeating a judicial nomination. Metzmeier’s collection has no fewer than four different buttons involving this effort.

After the Bork nomination, things would never be the same. Buttons and bumper stickers would be employed to both support and oppose controversial nominations.  In addition, the ability to possibly choose members of the Supreme Court would be noted in every presidential campaign. A classic 1996 campaign button features a free-spinning arrow pointing to the names of existing justices who (the button implies) could die or resign at any time and asks “Who do you want to choose the next Justice?” The Supreme Court now plays more prominent role in popular political culture than at any time. Its secret service nickname SCOTUS is well-known and forms part of a popular legal blog. And it hard to imagine any prior justice being so lovingly re-imaged as Justice Ginsburg has been as “The Notorious RGB.”

The exhibit is in the Law Library reading room through the end of 2014.

CALI Lessons

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction's (CALI) Library of Lessons contains over 900 interactive, computer-based legal tutorials covering more than three dozen legal education subject areas. The lessons are designed to augment traditional law school instruction. Many of your classmates have found them helpful in preparing for their exams.

Free copies of the DVD are available at the library's Circulation Desk. You may also view the lessons online. The student authorization code and instructions are available at the library's website. You must register with your "@louisville.edu" email address.

Law Library to close at 4pm on Friday, October 17

The University of Louisville has scheduled a Homecoming Parade starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, October 17.  The route will be from Cardinal Town to the Speed School parking lot, meaning that 3rd Street and Eastern Parkway will be closed at some time before the parade and that some parking lots will have to be evacuated. In order to allow our patrons time to clear the area, the Law Library will close at 4:00 p.m.

Recreational Reading in the Washer Lounge

Is your brain turning to mush from thinking too much about torts and contracts? Are your eyes begging for a break from casebooks and course outlines? If so, then check out the reading collection in the Washer Lounge. The collection of best sellers, novels, humor essays and graphic novels are waiting for your perusal. The collection is on the honor system. Just sign the card in the back of the book and then return the book whenever you are done with it. It's that simple! Go there now--your eyes and brain will thank you for it.

SSRN Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Vol 8, No 5

The latest issue of our SSRN Research Paper series features articles by Professors Arnold, Levinson, Milligan and Mark Rothstein.

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