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Written by David L. Hudson Jr., published on January 1, 2009 , last updated on February 18, 2024

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Arthur Kinoy, a well-known civil liberties attorney, who argued six cases before the Supreme Court, including two that centered on First Amendment issues. This photo is a screen capture from a video on YouTube where Kinoy is interviewed in 1990.

Arthur Kinoy (1920–2003) was a well-known civil liberties attorney, who tirelessly advocated for liberal causes.


Among other things, he represented accused espionage agents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, challenged laws that restricted the activities of civil rights protesters, and battled the Nixon administration over the use of wiretaps.


Kinoy argued for First Amendment freedoms in Supreme Court cases


Kinoy argued six cases before the Supreme Court, including two that centered on First Amendment issues. Cameron v. Johnson (1968) challenged a Mississippi anti-picketing law, and Dombrowski v. Pfister (1965) challenged a Louisiana anti-subversive law.


Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kinoy obtained his undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1941 and his law degree from Columbia in 1947. He then formed a law firm with classmate William M. Kunstler and his brother, Michael J. Kunstler. The trio referred to the firm Kunstler, Kunstler, and Kinoy as the “new KKK” in their battle against segregation and other progressive causes.


In 1964 Kinoy joined the faculty at Rutgers Law School, where he taught until his retirement in 1991.


Kinoy helped create Center for Constitutional Rights


In 1966 he founded the Center for Constitutional Rights with civil rights lawyers Kunstler, Morton Stavis, and Ben Smith, and it is still active today.


The same year, he was ejected from a hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he was serving as a lawyer, and charged with disorderly conduct.


In Kinoy v. District of Columbia (D.C.C. 1968), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia invalidated his conviction.


David L. Hudson, Jr. is a law professor at Belmont who publishes widely on First Amendment topics.  He is the author of a 12-lecture audio course on the First Amendment entitled Freedom of Speech: Understanding the First Amendment (Now You Know Media, 2018).  He also is the author of many First Amendment books, including The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech (Thomson Reuters, 2012) and Freedom of Speech: Documents Decoded (ABC-CLIO, 2017). This article was originally published in 2009.​


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