prominent lawyers including Felix Frankfurter charged that the Palmer Raids “struck at the foundation of American free institutions, and brought the name of our country into disrepute.”
Such government responses to real or perceived threats aren’t always seen as abuses in their own time — though they shame subsequent generations.
The ACLU vigorously championed individual liberties against the excesses of those in high places — always an uphill battle in times of crisis, but one that gained adherents with subsequent threats to American core values. These included the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor; the Red-baiting of the House Un-American Activities Committee; and investigations of lawful peace and civil-rights activists, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The raids also ushered in a new era of concern for individual rights and freedoms. One response to the wretched excess epitomized by the Palmer Raids was the advocacy of a new nonprofit watchdog and legal assistance organization. Founded in 1920 by a group of former anti-militarists and civil libertarians headed by Roger Baldwin, the wealthy son of a railroad execu- tive, this fledgling organization was the American Civil Liberties Union. It published a blis- tering DEPORTED: Anarchist Emma Goldman, who opposed the draft and stumped for birth control, rides a streetcar in 1917, two years before the first of the Palmer Raids. She was one of 249 residents rounded up and shipped back to the Soviet Union without a trial. The Palmer Raids trampled the Bill of Rights: making arrests without warrants, conducting unreasonable searches and seizures, wantonly destroying property, using physical brutality against suspects, and detaining suspects without charges for prolonged periods. in which