NEW YORK (Aug. 30)
New York State Supreme Court Justice Henry Epstein denied today a petition filed by George Lincoln Rockwell, self-styled leader of the American Nazi party, to compel city authorities to permit him to hold a public rally in Union Square on an unspecified date.
The petition had been filed on behalf of Rockwell by the New York Civil Liberties Union which, however, clearly indicated it was interested only in defending constitutional guarantees of free speech and disassociated itself completely from Rockwell’s expressed ideology.
The Rockwell petition had been aimed at Mayor Robert F. Wagner and Parks Commissioner Newbold Morris. Many organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, had entered the case as “friends of the court,” supporting the contention of Assistant City Corporation Counsel Saul Moskoff, who maintained that the Rockwell petition should be denied on the grounds that a Rockwell rally would amount to incitement to riot and disorder.
In dismissing the Rockwell petition outright, Justice Epstein declared: “It is not within the reasonable scope of the Bill of Rights to loose self-confessed advocates of violence upon a community at a time and place where public disorder and riot will result. This court cannot agree that the Constitutional guarantee of free speech encompasses such an invitation to public disorder, violence and even incitement to murder.”
Rockwell, according to the court, “has accused more than 2,000,000 New York City residents of the Jewish faith, and another half-million or more Negro and Puerto Rican residents of this city of being traitors.” Justice Epstein stated in his opinion that counsel for the CLU which was represented at the hearing before him last week by Emanuel Redfield, has “misread both the constitution and the cases” cited in the CLU argument before the court.