Talk:National Lawyers Guild

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Alger Hiss[edit]

What is the documentation for the edit stating that Hiss was a founding member of the NLG? I have never heard nor seen evidence of that and I don't recall it being mentioned in Victor Rabinowitz' book which documents the NLG founding. Unless there is some documentation, it should be deleted. In addition, even if Hiss was a founder, which I think is unlikely, there were other more prominent founders whom it would make more sense to mention.

According to Lenora Fuller, who knew Hiss in the 1930s when he was employed at the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, reported Hiss was one of the "organizers" of the Lawyers Guild. This information is available in the FBI Silvermaster file. One may suspect, given the association, and given the results of a massive Google search, the organization may have taken steps over previous decades to sanitize references to a list of its founders. Also, I beleive that information can be corroborated in the records of the 1952 Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. Nobs01 5 July 2005 21:21 (UTC)
Well, I think this info. should be removed then. The NLG had many prominent founders, why single out Hiss, particularly when the only record of his founding is from FBI files from a time when he was being prosecuted. I doubt the NLG "sanitized" anything given that they were openly supportive of Hiss and his case and still are to this day. This reference smacks more of a political smear than NPOV info appropriate for an encylopedic entry.
Then it is incumbant upon the NLG to produce a satisfactory history of its founders, not like what I have encountered so far. It doesn't look good. Nobs01 6 July 2005 00:40 (UTC)
Well, this isn't a polemic to which the NLG must respond. It is an encylopedia article which should make an objective report on the subject.
The objectivity which is lacking is the NLG's history, i.e. who were it's founding members. If the Hiss reference is to be deleted, then some refernce needs to be made about the evasive nature of the NLG publishing a straightforward account of its origins.Nobs01 6 July 2005 03:41 (UTC)

The NLG archives, including correspondence, agendas, minutes, etc., are located at the Tamiment Library at NYU. There is absolutely no evidence that the NLG has done anything to obscure its history. The fact that you couldn't find the founding documents of a nearly 70 year old organization by doing a google search is not evidence of any "evasive nature." Tamiment Library NLG Archive

Thank you, I appreciate your research very much. I have visited that site before in reference to Jack Fahy and a few others. My intention is not to go over ground the SISS already did in 1952, but if this article is to be expanded, it should begin with a section on the groups founding and history. To what extent Hiss had involvement, is not necessarily the focus of the organizations history. (Incidently, the site itself shows a partial gap from 1937-1947) Again, very much appreciated. Nobs01 6 July 2005 16:33 (UTC)

Hiss joined IJA early, not NLG: By 1937, when NLG officially launched, Hiss was already well established in Government (and in the Ware Group), so joining the NLG might have had a negative impact for either a Federal Government official or CP member (or spy): NLG was considered pro-Communist, etc., from its start. The fact is that Hiss had joined NLG's precursor, theInternational Juridical Association (IJA) by 1933, shortly after its formation in 1932 – and many of his lawyer friends (and soon-to-be fellow Ware Group members) had already joined (e.g., Lee Pressman). A main source for this information is long-time NLG member Ann Fagan Ginger in her biography of NLG co-founder (and IJA founder) Carol Weiss King, page 123.[1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aboudaqn (talkcontribs)


  1. ^ Ginger, Ann Fagan (1993). Carol Weiss King, human rights lawyer, 1895-1952. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. pp. 114 (trip), 115–16 (Shapiro), 117 (Apfel), 119–120 (establishment, mission), 120 (new offices, officers), 120–121 (Orphan Jones, August Yokinen), 121–122 (Scottsboro), 123–124 (early members), 124 (human rights), 136–137 (Angelo Herndon), 137 (1932 CPUSA presidential ticket), 138–139 (anti-deportation), 141–145 (Hunger March), 146–169 (bulletin) 150 (Apfel's arrest), 158–159 (Isserman), 159–160 (little cases), 167 (Justine Wise Polier), 177–181 (Angelo Herndon brief and support), 189 (Georgi Dimitrov [as "Dimitroff"]), 191 (Kurt Rosenfeld), 230 (Memorial Day massacre of 1937), 233–234 (Max Krauthamar), 304–305 (Bata), 386–387 (victories). ISBN 0-87081-285-8. 


"The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 as a national progressive bar association, an alternative to the then racially segregated American Bar Association." [1].--Cberlet 00:05, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

  • Actually, the vote to start it came in December 1936 – according to NLG's own official history – information I have recently added (with citation)--Aboudaqn (talk) 22:03, 5 August 2017 (UTC)


I've protected the page due to edit warring and excessive reverting. Please find a consensus on this talk page. -Will Beback 00:08, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Will, as you can see from the talk page and history, I have attempted multiple times to get people onto the talk page, and work out their complaints. It does not seem fair or prudent that you have protected the page after one of their edits, and not one of those of us who are trying to get them onto the talk page.
MSTCrow 01:38, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Page protection is not an endorsement of any version. Thanks for trying to get a discussion going. -Will Beback 01:41, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
What happens if, as I suspect, they don't bother to use the talk page?
MSTCrow 01:54, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Outline: Will Beback, since you have protected this entry, will you now please start creating an outline (preferably based on a Wikipedian ideal for such an organization), post it here, and let's agree on it? Example: I just added membership details from 1949–1950 with proper citation – long, granted, but fascinating! – and had a colleague delete it, boom!, no discussion. Let's do a "Chicken Run" here: let us chickens get organized, please? (very appropriate for NLG!) --Aboudaqn (talk) 22:09, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
@Aboudaqn:, the message you're responding to is more than 10 years old, as you can see from the time-stamps. Will Beback's last edit anywhere in Wikipedia was in 2014. If you'd like to start a discussion of recent edits (which would be appropriate, in keeping with WP:BRD), please create a new section on the bottom of the page. Thanks. --JBL (talk) 03:16, 6 August 2017 (UTC)

MSTCrow has a valid point - I've been seeking protection and help in fighting all the vandals and revert wars on this page for several days (first request for it was on 2/24). Will Beback and the other sys-ops ignored all these requests for help, but the second Chip Berlet shows up and switches to his own version of it they step in unasked and impose protection. That looks fishy to me. Sometimes this may be a coincidence and it may not be intentional which version gets corrected, but considering that Will Beback was also one of the editors involved in the dispute over similar NLG issues at Chip Berlet only a few days ago the timing is VERY suspicious. Anyhow, now that it is protected I'm not holding my breath for the vandals to start using the talk page. -- ColonelS 03:21, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Ah, damned if we do, damned if we don't. I encourage everybody to try to find a consensus and, regardless, to avoid edit warring. Thanks, -Will Beback 03:26, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Quite a bit of what MSTCrow and Colonel$ have been putting on this page has been easily and verifiably disputed. On the other hand, MSTCrow referred me to a page on a site created by David Horowitz [2] which was disputed by an article on a different site [3] created by David Horowitz to verify his "fact." Here is the text from that right-wing article (not perfect but still more accurate than what has been plastered on our page by folks with a political agenda and libelous information):

"The National Lawyers Guild was founded during the Great Depression as a pro-New Deal, progressive alternative to the segregated and comparatively conservative American Bar Association (ABA). Although many have alleged that the Communist International (Comintern) spearheaded the Guild’s creation, it is probably mistaken to attribute a sinister purpose to the Guild’s earliest existence. There were elements within the early Guild that were dedicated communist revolutionaries, without a doubt, but these were by no means the only actors within the fledgling organization: future Supreme Court Justices, New Deal supporters, civil libertarians, and other liberals were among its earliest members."

It is also quite clear that the versions posted by both of these individuals has often violated the POV policy. Phrases like "far left" for example. I welcome discussion on this page and look forward to seeing a list of the "facts" from both of these two and a way to verify each so that we can move forward. --Carlosvillarreal 04:56, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

1. Can you find evidence that run counter to those at Discover the Networks?
Yes, I posted it above. There is counter evidence on another one of David Horowitz' sites. Discover the Network should not be used for verification purposes. --Carlosvillarreal 21:06, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
2. Would you deny that the NLG is far-left? Or are you simply concerned that some people might have personal biases against the far-left?
I would deny that the NLG is "far-left." I certainly don't consider myself "far-left." I can only think of a handful of members who might fit this description. I would describe Horowitz as "far-right" but I'm certainly not going to put it on his page because I recognize that it is a very charged word based on my opinion. --Carlosvillarreal 21:06, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
MSTCrow 06:09, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
People have vilified the NLG for years. Here we should report what the NLG has to say about itself, report what most reputable published sources say (which in this case varies), and then include some charges from hard-right blacklisters such as Discover the Networks. Please note that few serious scholars and journalists consider Discover the Networks or Horowitz to be credible sources.--Cberlet 13:56, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, really, Mr. Berlet, the NLG is vilified for quite legitimate reasons. As for serious scholars (I hope you're not equating serious with only left-wing), I disagree, and as for journalists, they simply are beyond being taken seriously by anything but a small, rapidily aging demographic. While I'm at it, I'm also curious as to how you came to the conclusion that the late Murray Rothbard is a racist? Separate topic, you can reply on my talk page, if you'd like. The Intelligence Report prints such peculiar things.
MSTCrow 04:59, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Hey, I'm trying to work with you guys. Slander and defamation of sources you disagree with doesn't work. If you have counter-evidence, present it. If not, I'm going to fix the page myself, as I've made a good faith best effort to work with those who have had complaints.

MSTCrow 05:03, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
If I don't hear back from anyone in 48 hours with a coherent defense, I'm going to revert to the original article, which I might add had citations and sources, even if others don't like the conclusions that might be drawn from them.
MSTCrow 04:06, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm. You have an interesting defense. I found this statement on a website with internal contradictions and an obvious political agenda, but unless you can disprove it I'm posting it as a fact. Sorry, but I will continue to remove and/or edit anything you post that is unverifiable. --Carlosvillarreal 17:40, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

What internal contradictions? Sourcing information from those with agendas is not disallowed, or even a reasonable objective (first listed source is the NLG itself, *cough cough*). Obviously, if you make zero serious attempts disprove my contentions, you have no evidence to back up your claims. Either do some research, or stop trolling. If you remove and/or edit on this basis, you will be forwarded to Wiki admins as an issue.
MSTCrow 22:00, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't plan to violate any rules, so feel free to report me. I'll be sure to report you as well. As for the NLG being listed as a source, I guess I'm not sure what piece of your previous "facts" you're referring to. No one has removed the quote you posted, for instance, because no one denies it is an accurate quote, despite the fact that it is out of context and misleading.

The problem with much of what you have posted is that it violates a key rule: "Avoid bias. Articles should be written from a neutral point of view, representing all differing views on a subject, factually and objectively, in an order which is agreeable to a common consensus." Pulling directly from a right-wing website without putting it in context violates this rule and ought to be enough to block you compeletely as a user if you continue to abuse that policy.

Here is more on sources from Wikipedia's policy on verifiability: "Articles should rely on credible, third-party sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. For academic subjects, the sources should preferably be peer-reviewed. Sources should also be appropriate to the claims made: outlandish claims beg strong sources." Sorry, but this does not include discoverthenetwork. The contradiction, by the way, is the page that says prominently that the NLG was started by the Communist Party USA and then links to an article that denies such a link can be established.

So as long as you don't violate these simple rules, policies and the other guidelines, rest assured I will not change or remove what you post. --Carlosvillarreal 01:32, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

You're arguing that people who gather information, nevermind that it be factual and objective, from right-wing website have to be banned from Wikipedia. What you fail to comprehend is that facts are facts, and if it makes your side look bad, that's not a valid excuse for removing them. It in no way links to an article stating that the NLG was not founded by CPUSA. The only article that has any bearing on this matter is, which states that the Comintern did not spearhead the founding of the NLG, not the CPUSA. At this point, you're either making up stories, or your reading comprehesion skills are in question.
MSTCrow 02:26, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Wow that's splitting hairs. Don't you find it odd that the linked article doesn't mention CPUSA at all when it discusses the founding of the organization? Maybe its because that so-called "fact" is "outlandish" and thus begs strong sources, as the Wikipedia policies state. Do you have any other source besides discoverthenetwork?

I will add this statement from Wikipedia's Reliable Sources page - Evaluating sources section: "Do they have an agenda or conflict of interest, strong views, or other bias which may color their report? Remember that conflicts of interest are not always explicitly exposed and bias is not always self-evident. However, that a source has strong views is not necessarily a reason not to use it, although editors should avoid using political groups with widely acknowledged extremist views, like or the Socialist Workers Party. Groups like these may be used as primary sources only i.e. as sources about themselves, and even then with caution and sparingly, or about their viewpoints."

FYI - it doesn't bother me at all that there are Communists or Socialists or Anarchists in the NLG now or 70 years ago, but it is important to be accurate here because it provides a real picture of how our organization began. I should add that, if anything, the consensus is that the NLG was started in 1937 by a group of attorneys supporting FDR's New Deal. Your statement that exists on one web page is supported nowhere else. --Carlosvillarreal 03:21, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

You also removed new sections I added to history and politics that were cited and verifiable. By your logic I should be asking for your counter-evidence. --Carlosvillarreal 03:24, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Neutrality of lead[edit]

I don't believe it's standard practice to put "controversy" information in the lead section of articles, especially articles which have "controversy" sections. Should this material be moved from the lead to that section? Ghostofnemo (talk) 13:05, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

Information about controversies moved from lead to Criticism section to wikify the article. Ghostofnemo (talk) 13:30, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
Negative information removed from lead again, this is covered in Criticism section. Ghostofnemo (talk) 12:29, 2 August 2017 (UTC)


See also list of Talk:National Lawyers Guild/Archive 1#possible sources above in archives.

See WP:PRIMARY for the distinction between primary, secondary and tertiary sources:

  1. Victor Rabinowitz and Tim Ledwith (editors) A History of the National Lawyers Guild: 1937-1987. New York: National Lawyers Guild, 1987
    This source, currently used in the lead paragraph, is a primary source (i.e. it is published by the subject of this article, NLG, and authored by insiders of that organisation). Primary sources can be used in the article, but with moderation. Defining an organisation by its own terms (what the lead paragraph currently looks like) does however give the impression that Wikipedia is being used here as a channel for the publicity of that organisation.
  2. Martha F. Davis. "National Lawyers Guild", pp. 487488 in Poverty in The United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, and Policy edited by Alice O'Connor. ABC-CLIO, 2004. ISBN 1576075974
    Type of source: tertiary. Gives a short overview of the history of the organisation. Its slant ("Poverty in The United States") does however indicate that it only covers part of what we need for a neutral Wikipedia article.
  3. Ann Fagan Ginger and Eugene M. Tobin (editors); Ramsey Clark (foreword). The National Lawyers Guild: From Roosevelt Through Reagan. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988. ISBN 0877224889
    Type of source: secondary. I suppose one can assume that Ann Fagan Ginger is sympathetic towards the NLG causes, but it appears entirely possible to write an anti-NLG discourse almost exclusively based on this source (example). So probably the book itself takes no stance. Can we have more content in the Wikipedia article based on this book? Currently it is only used for a direct quote from the 1950 HUAC report (so used as a reference for primary-source material while this book could probably be used advantageously as a secondary source for general content in the article). Like source #1 it has however the disadvantage to not cover the history of the organisation beyond the late 1980s.
    Question: what is the author's last name: Ginger ("Ginger, Ann Fagan") or Fagan Ginger ("Fagan Ginger, Ann")?
  4. John S. Wood (chair of the House Un-American Activities Committee). Report on the National Lawyers Guild: Legal Bulwark of the Communist Party (Report No. 3123 of the 81st Congress, 2nd Session, of the House of Representatives). Washington, DC: Committee on Un-American Activities of the U. S. House of Representatives, 1950.
    Primary source documenting the McCarthy era.
    Question: is it OK to list this source under "Wood" (the HUAC's chair who submitted this report to the House of Representatives) in the "Sources" section?
  5. William Glaberson. "F.B.I. Admits Bid to Disrupt Lawyers Guild" in The New York Times, October 13, 1989
    Secondary source (picked from the #possible sources list above), allowing to bridge a little bit of the information gap for the half century between the McCarthy era an the 2010s, which is still insufficiently covered in the article thus far.
  6. Jesse Rigsby. "NLG: The Legal Fifth Column" in FrontPageMag, April 25, 2003
    Despite a solid overview of historical facts, and its references (all to source #3 as mentioned above), this source is outspoken partisan (calling the history of the NLG "sordid" etc). The least that can be said is that its op-ed quality makes it a primary source, or, on the other hand, I'm not too sure we should be using this source: doesn't seem like Jesse Rigsby's opinions, published in the on-line journal of a polarising organisation, carry enough weight for inclusion in Wikipedia. The bare facts on NLG, which here are enveloped in an opinionated discourse, can surely be found elsewhere, i.e. in sources that concentrate on historical facts rather than on their own opinions.
  7. Martin Dies (chairman of Special Committee on Un-American Activities). "145. National Lawyers Guild", pp. 1267–1279 in Appendix — Part IX: Communist Front Organizations, with Special Reference to the National Citizens Political Action Committee (Fourth Section and Fifth Section: Pages 1049–1648) of Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States: Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Seventy-eighth Congress, Second Session, on H. Res. 282. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1944
    Same type of source as #4. Currently used 6 times: some of these references could possibly be supplemented and/or replaced by references to secondary sources?
    Also, similar question: OK to list this under Dies (chairman of the Special Committee that is known as Dies Committee)?

--Francis Schonken (talk) 06:10, 6 August 2017 (UTC); + #3 07:55, 6 August 2017 (UTC); + #4 09:39, 6 August 2017 (UTC); + #5 12:31, 6 August 2017 (UTC); + #6 13:42, 6 August 2017 (UTC); + #7 16:29, 6 August 2017 (UTC)

Open invitation to re-outline and re-complete NLG entry?[edit]

Would anyone like to join me in creating a new outline for NLG and then filling in details?

It seems this entry has enough interest – and has also suffered from many rather needless fights over content...

Do people have examples of other entries on similarly mixed-reputation organizations to recommend?

I'm interested in filling out the history and membership of NLG prior to 1950 as factually as possible.

Clearly, if only thanks to HUAC reports on the NLG and related groups up to 1959, there is plenty of "negative" information to collate and state clearly (and clearly attributed). There is also an online history of NLG, published by the NLG, which I have started to mine (see new paragraph on December 1936). There is Ann Fagan Ginger's biography of Carol Weiss King. There must be many biographies about the many, diverse members of NLG over the years upon which to build both this entry and those related biographical entries. If we get membership at points clear, we can find people interested in those members...

Today is August 6, 2017: please reply by August 31, 2017. Let's get a little intelligent, coordinated crowd-sourcing going! --Aboudaqn (talk) 16:58, 6 August 2017 (UTC)