Arthur Kinoy

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Arthur Kinoy (September 20, 1920 – September 19, 2003), was an attorney and progressive civil rights leader who became a professor of law at the Rutgers School of Law–Newark. He was one of the founders of the Center for Constitutional Rights and successfully argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.


Kinoy was born on September 29, 1920 in New York City. He is an alumnus of Harvard University (A.B., 1941), where he graduated magna cum laude, and of Columbia University (LL.B., 1947). As a student at Harvard, Kinoy was a member of the national executive committee of the American Student Union.

Career as attorney[edit]

Kinoy was attorney for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), labeled a Communist-controlled union by the segregationist Mississippi Sen. James O. Eastland's Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS). He took an active part in the defense of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were executed on June 19, 1953, after conviction of atomic espionage. Kinoy made two last-minute efforts to save the Rosenbergs from execution. In the 1950s, he was associated with the law firm of Donner, Kinoy & Perlin, attorneys for such left-wing groups as the Committee for Justice for Morton Sobell and Labor Youth League.[1]

Kinoy was a member of the National Lawyers Guild, serving as national vice president in 1954. In 1964, Kinoy participated in a conference sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild's Committee for Legal Assistance in the South, to brief attorneys on legal problems confronting civil rights demonstrators in Mississippi. He and his partner, William Kunstler, were two of the most prominent attorneys to handle civil rights cases in the south in the 1960s.

In 1964, Kinoy became a professor of law at Rutgers University. From 1964 to 1967 he was a partner in the law firm of Kunstler, Kunstler & Kinoy of New York City. He was counsel for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Southern Conference Educational Fund. He was also affiliated with the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. In 1966, he was a speaker at the annual dinner of the National Guardian newspaper. He did legal work for the American Civil Liberties Union.

In 1966, Kinoy was removed from a hearing of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and subsequently convicted of disorderly conduct. In 1968, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the conviction.

As the New York Times stated in its obituary, "Mr. Kinoy was involved in a number of landmark legal verdicts. In 1965, he successfully argued the case of Dombrowski v. Pfister before the Supreme Court, which empowered federal district court judges to stop enforcement of laws that had ‘a chilling effect’ on free speech. In a subsequent case, Dombrowski v. Senator Eastland, he established that the Counsel of the Senate Internal Security Committee was not immune from suits for violations of citizens’ civil rights. In 1972, the Supreme Court upheld his contention that President Richard M. Nixon had no ‘inherent power’ to wiretap domestic political organizations."[2] In an unpublished manuscript, he claimed that the break-in at Watergate was actually an attempt to remove, not place, wiretaps in the Democratic Party headquarters because the Nixon administration knew of the impending decision by wiretapping the Supreme Court itself.

Kinoy was one of the founders of the Women's Rights Law Reporter, the first legal periodical to focus exclusively on women's rights. Kinoy also was the key founder of the Mass Party Organizing Committee, a coalition-based, electorally friendly attempt to create a socialist third party in the United States in the 1970s.[3]

Kinoy was married to Barbara S.Webster at his death. He had previously married and was divorced from Susan Knopf. He died on September 19, 2003 at the age of 82 at his home in New Jersey. He was survived by two children from his first marriage, as well as by his younger brother Ernest Kinoy, a prominent television and film screenwriter.


  1. ^ U.S. Senator James O. Eastland (D-MS), chairman of the SISS, on the floor of the Senate, on February 3, 1965.
  2. ^ "Arthur Kinoy Is Dead at 82; Lawyer for Chicago Seven" From Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  3. ^