100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.
Radical Leader to Fallen-Away Communist
“To Yield to Communism is to Permit the Abrogation of our Liberties”
Gitlow v. New York
268 U.S. 652 (1925)
Benjamin Gitlow was born in Elizabethport, New Jersey, on December 21, 1891, the second of four children. His mother recalled that he was a “very big baby with a big kick as though protesting against the system from the start.” Louis Albert Gitlow and Katherine Golman, Russian-Jewish immigrants, [Page 82]moved the family to New York City's Lower East Side shortly after Benjamin's birth. Although both parents worked, the family barely made ends meet. Nevertheless, their home was a frequent meeting place for Russian immigrants, and Benjamin grew up listening to stories of the movement against the Tsarist regime. This family environment made ...