NEW YORK (Jun. 16)
A Chicago Jewish community leader denounced today a planned July 4 march by the National Socialist Party in a heavily Jewish-populated Chicago suburb for which the way was cleared by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling yesterday.
Raymond Epstein, chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, said, in a statement read to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “We respect the Supreme Court decision and have always supported the constitutional rights of free speech and assembly,” but that “we regret” yesterday’s 5-4 ruling.
The ruling reversed a May 25 order of the Illinois Supreme Court refusing to lift, pending appeal, a lower court injunction forbidding the National Socialist Party, which has headquarters in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago, from staging demonstrations. The NSP scheduled its July 4 march in front of the Skokie village hall after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
REGRETS ‘VERY CLOSE DECISION’
In his statement, Epstein said “the fact that these self-acknowledged Nazis have chosen a predominantly Jewish area in which to demonstrate and promote their vicious and un-American program of group and racial hatred is clear evidence of their desire to provoke dissension and confrontation. We and all people of good will are opposed to having them carry on this activity in Skokie or anywhere else, and we regret the decision, the very close decision of the Supreme Court, to permit it.”
The lower court imposed the injunction in late April at the request of Skokie officials. The party asked the State Supreme Court to issue a stay to block enforcement of the injunction while the party appealed the issue through higher courts. The party also asked the state high court to allow the appeal to be expedited but the state high court did neither.
The U.S. Supreme Court, declaring that the Illinois high court should have done one or the other, reversed the state high court May 25 order and sent the issue back to that court for “further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.” While the U.S. Supreme Court did not itself issue a stay, the effect of its ruling was to permit the NSP to demonstrate.