Impeach Justice Douglas!
When Justice William O. Douglas retired from the United States Supreme Court in 1975, he had served for thirty-six years, longer than any other justice its history, and had helped to decide some of the most important cases in the nation’s history. He was an inveterate traveler, prolific writer, and popular speaker, who used his position to espouse his ideas on environmentalism and the Bill of Rights. His public visibility and open criticism won him friends in some places and more than a few enemies in the Congress and the White House, some of whom actively, though unsuccessfully, sought his impeachment.
Impeach Justice Douglas! explores some of the most explosive issues of William O. Douglas’s long tenure on the Supreme Court. He wrestles with balancing “wilderness mind” with the often-hostile adversarial conflicts created by his controversial opinions and his active public life. He addresses the issues about which he was most passionate . . . civil rights, freedom of speech, environmentalism, and the right of the individual to non-conformity and dissent . . . as he reflects on Brown v. The Board of Education, the “McCarthy Era,” and the Vietnam War. Although Douglas’ life spanned the early and middle part of the 20th century, the issues of his day remain major social and legal concerns of current times.
William O. Douglas left a legacy that calls for vigilance to protect human rights and action to protect the earth’s environment. The movie explores that legacy, provokes thought about our responsibilities as citizens, not only of the United States, but of the global community.
The goal of the program is to use the cases and causes in which Justice William O. Douglas was involved as a basis for attorneys today to facilitate discussion and explore specific rules of professional conduct in contemporary legal and judicial practice. The specific rules that might apply in these cases are included in the materials and attendees are asked to focus on the issues in the movie as they relate to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as the Rules in their own jurisdictions.