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Jim Garrison's Bourbon Street Brawl: The Making of a First Amendment Milestone

Jim Garrison's Bourbon Street Brawl: The Making of a First Amendment Milestone

Bourbon Street BrawlJim Garrison plied Bourbon Street as few politicians had— for political power. This presentation shows how the New Orleans district attorney used an anti-vice campaign early in his term to become the city’s ultimate powerbroker, laying the foundation for his controversial probe of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Years before his inquiry into the Kennedy assassination, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison first captured the national spotlight in late 1962, when he launched a series of raids on French Quarter strip clubs and bars. Even more extraordinary than the vice raids themselves was Garrison's verbal feud with Orleans Parish's criminal court judges, whom he accused of restricting funds for his raids due to their ties to organized crime.

Convicted of defaming the jurists, Garrison took his crusade from the back booths of Bourbon Street bars to the marbled confines of the United States 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 "the essence of self-government." "Jim Garrison's Bourbon Street Brawl" is the first full-length examination of this fundamental legal precedent.


James Savage earned his Ph.D. in 20th-century American political history from the University of Kentucky in 2014. James was an award-winning writer and editor at the Opelousas Daily World and Lafayette Daily Advertiser before he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Jim Garrison’s Bourbon Street Brawl is his first book.