Based on Savage’s book of the same title, this lecture explores the first amendment legal precedent set by the prosecution of a major political figure from New Orleans – Jim Garrison, a former district attorney of Orleans Parish and state judge, who is also known for his controversial probe of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
A high profile figure in New Orleans politics, Garrison gained national notoriety in 1962 with a series of raids on French Quarter strip clubs and bars. When local criminal court judges stymied Garrison’s efforts, he accused them of restricting funds for his raids due to their ties to organized crime.
Garrison was sued for defamation and his subsequent conviction would question how far the first amendment’s protection reached in regards to the criticism of public officials. It was a question that would go all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1964, a unanimous court ruled that an individual's freedom to criticize elected judges and other public officials was not only protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, but that it was also "the essence of self-government."
Savage, an award-winning writer and editor at the Opelousas Daily World and Lafayette Daily Advertiser, received his doctorate in 20th-century American political history from the University of Kentucky and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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