Oral Histories

Interview of Sam Rosenwein

Lawyer, educator, and executive secretary of the National Lawyers Guild.
Advocacy for Ideas
Interviews not in a series, part one
Social Movements
Civil Liberties
Biographical Note:
Lawyer, educator, and executive secretary of the National Lawyers Guild.
Balter, Michael S.
Rosenwein, Sam
Persons Present:
Rosenwein and Baiter.
Place Conducted:
Rosenwein's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Michael S. Baiter, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., biology, San Jose State University; M.A., biology, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
Virginia Carew, assistant editor, edited theinterview. She checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.The edited transcript was sent to Rosenwein in early summer of 1987. He made some changes and additions and returned it in September of the same year.Alex Cline, assistant editor, prepared the table of contents, biographical summary, and index. Vimala Jayanti, editor, prepared the interview history.
6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Childhood in a Jewish family in New York; parents' divorce; working in a pocketbook factory and going on strike at age thirteen; exposure to socialism; reasons for going into law; college career at New York University; clerking for Harold Turk; Rosenwein's work with Turk on Prussian v. United States; meeting with Justice Louis D. Brandeis; marriage and family; work during the Depression; joining the Communist Party; the National Lawyers Guild established to support New Deal legislation; the Rapp-Covdert hearings on communist professors at City College of New York; employment with Office of Price Administration; work for the Civil Rights Congress; joins the defense of the Hollywood Ten; Bertolt Brecht; the House Committee on Un-American Activities identifies Rosenwein as a communist; the Smith Act cases; Rosenwein moves to California; the United States Supreme Court throws out the Smith Act convictions; Koenigsberg v. State Bar of California; start of Rosenwein's association with Stanley Fleishman; the history of obscenity as a legal issue; the United States Supreme Court rejects the Hicklin test in Roth v. Alberts and Alberts v. California; the Warren E. Burger court redefines obscenity in Miller v. California; further evolution of obscenity laws; the case against the publisher of Sex Life of a Cop; Abraham Lincoln Wirin's innovative strategy in Zeitlin v. Arnebergh; Redrup v. New York and Jacobellis v. Ohio on seizure of "obscene" material; why Rosenwein never joined the California State Bar; the Oliver Goldsmith Society; involvement in civil rights cases during the 1960s; the Younger v. Harris criminal syndicalism case; the People's College of Law; First Amendment rights related to the American Civil Liberties Union case over Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan obtaining a permit to march in the city of Skokie, Illinois.