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Written by David L. Hudson Jr., published on January 1, 2009 , last updated on May 5, 2024

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Joseph L. Rauh Jr. (1911–1992), a renowned civil liberties lawyer, served as the leader of several civil rights organizations. He argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court, including at least three that dealt with First Amendment issues: Watkins v. United States (1957); United States v. Auto Workers (1957), and United Steelworkers of America v. Sadlowski (1982). In this photo, Rauh, left, stands with Aaron Henry, head of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The two leaders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party display a brief in Atlantic City, New Jersey., Aug. 21, 1964, which they will submit to the credential subcommittee of the Democratic convention in an effort to be seated in place of the regular Mississippi Democratic delegation. (AP Photo, used with permission from the Associated Press)

Joseph L. Rauh Jr. (1911–1992), a renowned civil liberties lawyer, served as the leader of several civil rights organizations. He argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court, including at least three that dealt with First Amendment issues: Watkins v. United States (1957); United States v. Auto Workers (1957), and United Steelworkers of America v. Sadlowski (1982).

 

Rauh worked in several government posts

 

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rauh earned undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. After graduating from law school, he clerked for Supreme Court justices Benjamin N. Cardozo and Felix Frankfurter. He also worked for a number of governmental agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission. He served in the army during World War II and after his military service entered private practice in Washington, D.C.

 

Rauh had leading positions with civil rights organizations

 

In 1947 Rauh founded Americans for Democratic Action. During the course of his career he also had leading positions with other civil rights organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In the 1950s, Rauh represented several individuals called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, including Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, and John Watkins, whose case reached the Supreme Court. President Bill Clinton awarded Rauh the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.

 

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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