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Leonard Boudin argued many First Amendment cases before the Supreme Court. He was also a prominent civil liberties attorney, and among his clients were Daniel Ellsberg, who was charged in connection with the theft of the Pentagon Papers.

Leonard B. Boudin (1912–1989), a prominent civil liberties lawyer, argued many First Amendment cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.


Among them were


Boudin partnered with Rabinowitz on civil liberties cases


A native of Brooklyn, New York, Boudin obtained his undergraduate degree from City College and his law degree from St. John’s Law School. Upon his graduation from the latter in 1936, Boudin practiced law with his uncle, Louis Boudin, a well-known constitutional lawyer and socialist. In the late 1940s, Boudin formed a law firm with another young lawyer, Victor Rabinowitz, and the two handled many high-profile labor law and then civil liberties cases.

Dr. Benjamin Spock, center, chats with his lawyers outside Federal Court in Boston in 1968 during recess of his trial. Victor Rabinowitz, left, and Leonard B. Boudin, both of New York City, represented the famed baby doctor on charges of conspiring to counsel young men to evade the draft. Spock was convicted, but the conviction was overturned in 1969. (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis, used with permission from the Associated Press)

Boudin represented celebrities, participated in First Amendment cases


Through the years, Boudin represented many celebrities and controversial clients, including actor Paul Robeson, pediatrician Benjamin Spock, and former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa. Boudin also represented Daniel Ellsberg, who was charged in connection with the theft of the Pentagon Papers.


His son, Michael Boudin, is chief judge of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and his daughter, Kathy Boudin, is in a New York prison for her participation in the 1981 armed robbery of an armored truck.


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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