Leonard B. Boudin (1912 - 1989)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About Leonard B. Boudin


Leonard B. Boudin (July 20, 1912- November 24, 1989) was an American civil liberties attorney and left-wing activist who represented Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame and Dr. Benjamin Spock, the author of Baby and Child Care, who advocated draft resistance during the Vietnam War. Other opponents of the Vietnam war whom he represented were Julian Bond, William Sloan Coffin, and Philip Berrigan.

He also represented other controversial clients including the Church of Scientology, Judith Coplon, the post-revolutionary government of Cuba, Paul Robeson, and others (such as persons subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee) thought or known to have Marxist views or Communist affiliations. Boudin was counsel to the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee and a member of the National Lawyers Guild. He was the law partner of Victor Rabinowitz, himself counsel to numerous left-wing organizations and individuals.

Boudin argued and won unanimously the first case in which the United States Supreme Court invalidated a federal statute under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, Lamont v. Postmaster General. He also argued and won the landmark case Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, in which the Supreme Court held that draft dodgers could not be stripped of their citizenship without being criminally prosecuted and afforded the protections promised to criminal defendants in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

The papers of Boudin and Rabinowitz' law firm, ultimately Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman, P.C., indicate work for, among others, Dashiell Hammett, James Hoffa, Rockwell Kent, Alger Hiss, the American Communications Association (ACA) and other unions, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and other non-union organizations.

Leonard Boudin was the nephew of Louis Boudin, a labor lawyer and professor of constitutional law at Yale University. His brother-in-law was influential left-wing journalist I. F. Stone. He went to City College and received his law degree from St. John's Law School in 1936. Leonard fathered two children, Michael and Kathy, who achieved recognition in later life. Michael Boudin became a jurist and is currently a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, serving as its chief judge 2001-2008. Kathy Boudin was an activist and co-founder of the 1960s radical group the Weather Underground, who served 22 years in prison for her role in a 1981 robbery that left two police officers and a security guard dead. His only biological grandson, Chesa Boudin, Kathy's son, is now a student at the Yale Law School.

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