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United States Supreme Court Upholds N.Y. Anti-klan Law

November 21, 1928
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(Jewish Daily Bulletin

The Walker law of the State of New York aimed at the Ku-Klux Klan and requring oath-bound secret associations to file with the Secretary of State full information as to their nature and membership, was upheld yesterday by the United States Supreme Court in an opinion by Justice Willis Van Deventer.

The opinion contained language severely critical of the aims and methods of the Klan, which, it said, evidently belonged to that class of societies which made the “secrecy surrounding its purposes and membership a cloak for acts and conduct inimical to personal rights and public welfare.”

The Walker law has already been upheld by the New York courts, whose judgments are affirmed by the decision. The court was unanimous, except for the fact that justice McRey-nolds handed down a dissent on the technical ground that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction in the controversy.

The case, which has attracted wide notice, is that of the people of the State of New York, ex rel George C. Bryant, plaintiff in error, vs. Charles F. Zimmerman, et al. Bryant was arrested on the ground that he attended a meeting of and remained a member of Buffalo Provisional Klan with Knowledge that the associations had not complied with the provisions of the Walker law by filing with the Secretary of State ” a sworn copy of its constitution, by-laws, rules, regulations and oath of membership, together with a roster of its membership, and a list of its officers for the current year”

Bryant sought release on habeas corpus after he was confined in Buffalo jail. He contended that the New York law, which Mayor Walker of New York sponsored while he was in the Legislature, was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court of the state discharged the writ and in so doing hit at the Klan, declaring that it functioned largely at night, “its members disguised by hoods and gowns and doing things calculated to strike terror into the minds of the people.”

A part of the opinion of Justice Van Devanter is devoted to the question of jurisdiction. After discussion, the majority opinion holds the Supreme Court has jurisdiction of the controversy. Following this, the opinion deals with the case in detail and refuses to invalidate the Walker law on the ground, as alleged by Bryant, that it violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution of the United States.

Governor Fred Green of Michigan, appointed Adolph Finsterwald a member of the Michigan State Fair Board.

Mr. Finsterwald is treasure of Temple Beth EL, Detroit. He was the chairman of the successful Detroit campaign for $100,000 for the Cleveland Orphan Home last month.

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