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Summary Article: Boudin, Leonard
from Encyclopedia of the First Amendment

Leonard B. Boudin (1912–1989), a prominent civil liberties lawyer, argued many First Amendment cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Among them were Kent v. Dulles (1958), which the Court ultimately decided on Fifth Amendment due process grounds; Braden v. United States (1961), which involved the activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee; Lamont v. Postmaster General (1965), which struck down a postal regulation limiting delivery of “Communist political propaganda”; and Bond v. Floyd (1966), which invalidated the expulsion of a Georgia state legislator for comments critical of the U.S. war effort.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Boudin obtained his undergraduate degree from City College and his law degree from St. John’s Law School. Upon his graduation from the latter in 1936, Boudin practiced law with his uncle, Louis Boudin, a well-known constitutional lawyer and socialist. In the late 1940s, Boudin formed a law firm with another young lawyer, Victor Rabinowitz, and the two handled many high-profile labor law and then civil liberties cases.

Through the years, Boudin represented many celebrities and controversial clients, including actor Paul Robeson, pediatrician Benjamin Spock, and former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa. Boudin also represented Daniel Ellsberg, who was charged in connection with the theft of the Pentagon Papers.

His son, Michael Boudin, is chief judge of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and his daughter, Kathy Boudin, is in a New York prison for her participation in the 1981 armed robbery of an armored truck.

See also Bond v. Floyd (1966); Ellsberg, Daniel; Lamont v. Postmaster General (1965); Rabinowitz, Victor.

  • Ravo, Nick. “Leonard Boudin, Civil Liberties Lawyer, Dead at 77.” New York Times, November 26, 1989, 45.
  • David L. Hudson Jr.
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