The Kingfish and the Constitution: Huey Long, the First Amendment, and the Emergence of Modern Press Freedom in America

The Kingfish and the Constitution: Huey Long, the First Amendment, and the Emergence of Modern Press Freedom in America

The Kingfish and the Constitution: Huey Long, the First Amendment, and the Emergence of Modern Press Freedom in America

The Kingfish and the Constitution: Huey Long, the First Amendment, and the Emergence of Modern Press Freedom in America

Synopsis

The Kingfish and the Constitution is an in-depth analysis of the poisonous relationship that evolved between Huey "Kingfish" Long, legendary governor of Louisiana, and the state's daily newspapers. Long's political battle over the newspaper tax in the Louisiana legislature in 1934 and the subsequent battle over the constitutionality of his attempt at censorship by taxation culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Grosjean v. American Press Co. in 1936, a landmark decision that laid the basis for the protection of modern freedom of the press in America. This fascinating study will be of interest to scholars and students of political science, constitutional law, and American history.

Excerpt

◆ Huey Pierce "Kingfish" Long was killed some two months before I was born, and consequently I had no opportunity to form any impressions of the man during his lifetime. As a youth growing up in southern and south central Oklahoma during the 1930s and 1940s, however, I remember adults who held Huey Long in high esteem as a rare politician who had sponsored programs that helped the common people. As I became a professional political scientist, I, of course, became more acquainted with the career of Huey Long as governor of Louisiana and later its U.S. Senator, but even then I had no detailed knowledge of his political career. I regarded him as a somewhat clownish political figure whose principal value to me was as a source of humorous anecdotes that were useful in lightening up my lectures in political science classes. My impression of Huey Long was probably one shared by large numbers of others who possessed only a vague knowledge of his political career and regarded him as a comic and rather colorful figure from our political past.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had received crucial support from Long in securing the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1932, had a much different and more definite opinion of Huey Long. After receiving a telephone call from Long at his Hyde Park home following his nomination for the presidency, Roosevelt commented to his guests, "It has its funny side but actually Huey is one of the two most dangerous men in the United States today. We shall have to do something about . . .

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