In the spring of 1963, a state court judge in Alabama ordered Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates to desist from protesting. King disobeyed the injunction, was jailed, and was later prevented from challenging the constitutionality of the order. In the 1967 case Walker v. City of Birmingham, the Supreme Court upheld the Alabama court’s rulings against King, declaring that “respect for judicial process is a small price to pay for the civilizing hand of law.” Did the Supreme Court rule rightly?
Randall Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of the forthcoming book From Protest to Law: Triumphs and Defeats of the Black Revolts, 1948–1968.
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