Illinois Court Rules on Nazis

The Illinois Appellate Court yesterday issued a ruling which in effect would half a proposed Nazi march in the predominantly Jewish suburb of Skokie. In both upholding and reversing parts of a temporary injunction secured by the Village of Skokie against the National Socialist Party of America, the court said the Nazis could march in uniform, but not while wearing or using the swastika symbol because it constitutes “fighting words” unprotected by the Constitution.

In effect, the court upheld a Cook County Circuit Court ruling that the wearing of the swastika could constitute a “grave and serious threat to the peace of the citizens of the Village of Skokie” which include on estimated 7000 survivors of the Holocaust.

Michael Whalen, a Nazi spokesman, said the group would not yield on the use of the swastika. He claimed that doing so “would be giving up our right to free speech. It distinguishes us from other groups.” David Goldberger, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing the Nazis, said the Appellate Court ruling would be appealed.

The court decision specifically noted that the ruling did not affect three Skokie ordinances which also would effectively prohibit the Nazis from marching. The ordinances include posting a $350,000 bond, obtaining a permit and a ban on the wearing of military-style uniforms “repugnant” to residents of Skokie.

Jerome Torshen, attorney for Sol Goldstein, a Holocaust survivor, said he was “very pleased” with the court’s decision because it anticipates the basis of Goldstein’s class suit against the Nazis. Goldstein is a leader of the Jewish Federation and Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago and a member of the Januz Korczak lodge of B’nai B’rith, a survivors group.

Goldstein’s suit filed on behalf of all Holocaust survivors living in Skokie, seeks a permanent injunction against a Nazi-style march on the grounds that it would cause the survivors “severe emotional distress.” The case is due to be heard July 29.

Torshen said he was “hopeful that the injunction would be made even broader” after evidence in Goldstein’s case is presented in court. Earlier, Torshen had stated that he plans to present evidence “as obscene and horrendous as any ever presented in court.” Torshen heads a committee of lawyers from major Jewish organizations and law firms who are working on the case.

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