Podcast / The Time of Monsters / Feb 18, 2024

From McCarthyism to Citizens United.

From McCarthyism to “Citizens United”

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Douglas Bell discusses Chandler Davis and the contest over free speech.

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From McCarthyism to Citizens United | The Time of Monsters
byThe Nation Magazine

The mathematician Chandler Davis, who died in 2002 at age 96, was one of the notable victims of the second Red Scare. In 1960, Davis was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to answer questions about his membership in the Communist Party. Davis’s lawyers defended him with the innovative legal argument that the First Amendment barred such questioning. While Davis lost in the courts, his legal battles were still an important effort in a larger battle to extend the parameters on political speech. Davis’s story is told in a new book, The Prosecution of Professor Chandler Davis by Steve Batterson. Siobhan Robert’s obituary for Davis ran in The Nation.

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, I talked to journalist Doug Bell, who knew Chandler Davis, about this book and Davis’s larger place in history. We take up the history of anti-communism and how it has limited free speech, the legal philosophy of Alexander Meiklejohn, and the reactionary Supreme Court's use of the First Amendment to expand corporate power.  

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Chandler Davis photographed in 1975.

(Wikimedia Commons)

The mathematician Chandler Davis, who died in 2022 at age 96, was one of the notable victims of the second Red Scare. In 1960, Davis was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to answer questions about his membership in the Communist Party. Davis’s lawyers defended him with the innovative legal argument that the First Amendment barred such questioning. While Davis lost in the courts, his legal battles were still an important effort in a larger battle to extend the parameters on political speech. Davis’s story is told in a new book, The Prosecution of Professor Chandler Davis, by Steve Batterson. Siobhan Robert’s obituary for Davis ran in The Nation.

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, I talked to journalist Doug Bell, who knew Chandler Davis, about this book and Davis’s larger place in history. We take up the history of anti-communism and how it has limited free speech, the legal philosophy of Alexander Meiklejohn, and the reactionary Supreme Court’s use of the First Amendment to expand corporate power.

The Nation Podcasts
The Nation Podcasts

Here's where to find podcasts from The Nation. Political talk without the boring parts, featuring the writers, activists and artists who shape the news, from a progressive perspective.

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Jeet Heer

Jeet Heer is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation and host of the weekly Nation podcast, The Time of Monsters. He also pens the monthly column “Morbid Symptoms.” The author of In Love with Art: Francoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman (2013) and Sweet Lechery: Reviews, Essays and Profiles (2014), Heer has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The American Prospect, The GuardianThe New Republic, and The Boston Globe.

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