National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee

National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee

National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee

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The National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee was an organization formed in 1951 to "to reestablish the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and The Bill of Rights", and was called the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee until 1968. They became known for defending the rights of citizens blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, including political activists (some Communist) whom the ACLU and other civil rights groups refused to or did not defend. Their first "landmark case" was Kent v. Dulles, in which the court ruled that the right to travel may not be restricted without due process.

After the McCarthy era, the organization won a number of high profile civil rights cases. In Peck v. State of Alabama and the FBI, NECLC sued the FBI for damages on behalf of James Peck, a young Freedom Rider who had been beaten into unconsciousness by the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama in 1961. In an unprecedented decision, the court ruled against the FBI that the government has the common law duty to protect citizens when it has notice of impending violence. In Farmworkers v. A&P (1974), the NECLC successfully defended the right of the United Farm Workers to boycott The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company for selling non-union grapes and lettuce.

In the 1980s, the NECLC successfully...
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