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Chambers v. Florida


The decision was written by a justice whose appointment to the Supreme Court had been hotly controversial because of his membership, as a youth, in the Ku Klux Klan. But after Chambers v. Florida, Justice Black emerged as perhaps the Court's most forceful defender of civil rights.

The decision was "far and away the most direct, sweeping and brilliantly written application of the Fourteenth Amendment to human rights that has come from our highest Court," the New York Times declared at the time. The appeal, one of the first brought by the newly established Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP headed by Thurgood Marshall, "will ring with power as long as liberty and justice are cherished in our land." So said the usually cynical historian Charles Beard. A gratified Franklin Delano Roosevelt, still smarting over criticism over Black's appointment, slyly suggested the press should not just "give a little praise," but add a "modicum of apology for things they have said in the last two years. Is that fair enough?"

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Chambers v. Florida - Significance, Impact, Further Readings