#Stop&Frisk – Black History

by uslegal.com

Stop and frisk is when police “temporarily” detain somebody and pat down their outer clothing when there are specific articulate facts leading a reasonable police officer to believe a person is armed and dangerous. It is not necessary for the officer to articulate or identify a specific crime they think is being committed, only that a set of factual circumstances exist that would lead a reasonable officer to have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring. “Reasonable suspicion” is one step below “probable cause” and one step above a hunch.

A “frisk” by definition is a type of search that requires a “lawful stop”. It is best thought of as a separate act, but in practice, a suspect who refuses to answer questions in a stop may be providing the officer with sufficient justification to frisk. A frisk should not be for anything other than a dangerous weapon or contraband. However, if other evidence, like a suspected drug container, is felt, it can be seized by the officer under the “plain feel” doctrine. The test for “plain feel” is that the item’s contraband nature be “immediately apparent”.

Resource: uslegal.com

One of several problems with stop & frisk, is that most if not all Police demand name, address, question people of colour when in upper income communities and or assume gang affiliation least we talk about the percentage of Black Latino Asian or Caucasian men&women being stopped on a daily basis … is it a quota, a civil rights issue, a misuse or abuse of power ~ Nativergrl77

February: Heritage Month


February is African American History Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

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Art in the Kinsey Collection includes this 1990 woodcut ‘The Faces of My People’ by artist Margaret Burroughs

In the Library “Words on the move” john Mcwhoter

bestselling linguist takes us on a lively tour of how the English language is evolving before our eyes — and why we should embrace this transformation and not fight it

Language is always changing — but we tend not to like it. We understand that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the wrong way. Whether it’s the use of literally to mean “figuratively” rather than “by the letter,” or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like What’s the ask? — it often seems as if the language is deteriorating before our eyes.

But the truth is different and a lot less scary, as John McWhorter shows in this delightful and eye-opening exploration of how English has always been in motion and continues to evolve today. Drawing examples from everyday life and employing a generous helping of humor, he shows that these shifts are a natural process common to all languages, and that we should embrace and appreciate these changes, not condemn them.

Words on the Move opens our eyes to the surprising backstories to the words and expressions we use every day. Did you know that silly once meant “blessed”? Or that ought was the original past tense of owe? Or that the suffix -ly in adverbs is actually a remnant of the word like? And have you ever wondered why some people from New Orleans sound as if they come from Brooklyn?

McWhorter encourages us to marvel at the dynamism and resilience of the English language, and his book offers a lively journey through which we discover that words are ever on the move and our lives are all the richer for it.

The United States vs. Muhammad Ali By Adam J. Pollack – Black History

Image result for Muhammad Ali

On June 28, 1971, the United States Supreme Court reversed Muhammad Ali’s federal criminal conviction for refusing to enter the military. Clay v. United States,  403 U.S. 698, 91 S.Ct. 2068, 29 L.Ed.2d 810 (1971). Most Americans are aware that world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to enter the U.S. Armed Forces and that his conviction for refusing to do so eventually was overturned. Ali’s moral, religious, and political position cost him a three and a half year absence from the boxing ring during his prime years. However, what is less known are the factual and legal intricacies of his draft status, draft evasion conviction, and appeals.

Ali’s Draft Classification and Administrative Appeals

As required by law, on April 18, 1960, Cassius Marcellus Clay (as Ali then was known) registered with the selective service, Local Board No. 47, Louisville, Kentucky. Later that year, Clay won the 178-pound division Olympic boxing gold medal in Rome. In 1962, Cassius Clay was classified 1-A by Local Board No. 47, Louisville, Kentucky, meaning that he was available for military service and eligible to be drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces.

On February 25, 1964 in Miami, Florida, 22-year-old Cassius Clay won the world heavyweight championship when Sonny Liston retired in his corner after the sixth round.

The next day, Clay announced that he had joined the Lost Found Nation of Islam, otherwise known as the Black Muslim movement. He renounced his “slave name” and stated that he would be known as Cassius X until he could assume a Muslim name. This announcement angered most white Americans, who feared the Black Muslims as a dangerous group during a time of percolating racial unrest and black demands for equal protection under the law and recognition of their civil rights.

Ed Lassman, president of the World Boxing Association (W.B.A.), called Cassius unworthy of being champion and a bad example for American youth. Shortly thereafter, the W.B.A. stripped Ali of its title. Muslim civil rights leader Malcolm X responded by saying, “They knew that if people began to identify with Cassius and the type of image he was creating they were going to have trouble out of these Negroes.”

Several weeks later, Martin Luther King Jr. led a civil rights march through Selma, Alabama. The nation’s conscience was aroused as it watched the television in shock as the police brutally attacked the marchers.

In March 1964, as a result of a low score on a mental aptitude examination, Cassius Clay (then Cassius X) was classified 1-Y, meaning that he was not qualified for induction in the armed forces under the current standards.

On May 25, 1965 in Lewiston, Maine, Cassius Clay, now calling himself Muhammad Ali, stopped Sonny Liston in the 1st round, successfully defending his world heavyweight championship.  Initially, most writers and sports announcers refused to call him by his new name. Ali followed that win in Las Vegas with a November 22, 1965 stoppage of former champion Floyd Patterson in 12 rounds.

On February 17, 1966, after having been considered by the Examining Station in accordance with the current regulations (which had been lowered in light of an increased need for soldiers), without having been re-tested, Ali was found fully acceptable for induction into the military. He was re-classified 1-A in accordance with his original 1962 classification.

A week later, Ali submitted to the local draft board a Special Form for Conscientious Objector (I-O). This was the first time he claimed that he was a conscientious objector to war. Ali also requested a personal appearance before the local board regarding the change of his classification from 1-Y to 1-A. After granting Ali a personal appearance, the local board again classified him 1-A, eligible for service.  Ali appealed the decision to the Kentucky Appeal Board.

Shortly after Ali won a late-March 1966 15-round decision against George Chuvalo in Toronto Canada, on May 6, 1966 the Kentucky Appeal Board determined that Ali was not entitled to the I-O (conscientious objector) status. The complete file was referred to the Department of Justice for an advisory recommendation as required by the Selective Service Regulations. The Department of Justice then requested an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.).

Ali continued his title defenses, in London, England, stopping Henry Cooper on cuts in 6 rounds and knocking out Brian London in 3 rounds in late May and early August 1966 respectively.

Following the conclusion of the requested F.B.I. investigation, a special hearing was held in Louisville.  On August 23, 1966, the hearing officer reported his belief that Ali was sincere in his conscientious objector claim. At that point, Ali additionally claimed to be a minister of the Lost Found Nation of Islam. He contended he should be exempt from military service as a “regular minister of religion” (known as the IV-D classification).

Ali again defended his heavyweight championship in September and November 1966, in Frankfurt, Germany stopping Karl Mildenberger in the 12th round, and in Houston, Texas knocking out Cleveland Williams in the 3rd round.

On November 25, 1966, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, Conscientious Objector Section, recommended to the Kentucky Appeal Board that Ali’s request for conscientious objector status be denied. Following that recommendation, on January 10, 1967, the Kentucky Appeal Board again denied the requested conscientious objector claim. Two days later, Local Board No. 47 in Kentucky unanimously found that Ali was not entitled to the ministerial exemption. A week later, at the written request of General Lewis B. Hershey, the National Director of Selective Service, the Local Board reconsidered Ali’s classification and again classified him 1-A.

On February 6, 1967 in Houston, Muhammad Ali won a 15-round decision against then W.B.A. champion Ernie Terrell, regaining the W.B.A. title.

Following another appeal, on February 15, 1967, the Appeal Board for the Southern District of Texas also classified Ali 1-A. A week later, the National Director of Selective Service, General Lewis B. Hershey, appealed Ali’s classification to the National Selective Service Appeal Board (also called the Presidential Appeal Board because it is composed of three members who are appointed by and act for the President, who has the power to decide claims). Ali himself could not file this appeal because the regulations required that one or more members of the appeal board dissent from the classification (which had not occurred) before a registrant has a right to file the appeal. The National Director of Selective Service had the discretion to file the appeal anyway, which he did.

On March 6, 1967, the three-member Presidential Appeal Board (which included a black member) reviewed Ali’s entire file and unanimously classified him I-A, denying him the conscientious objector status.  Muhammad Ali had fully exhausted his administrative appeals.

On March 22, 1967 in New York, Muhammad Ali defended his heavyweight championship for the ninth time, knocking out Zora Folley in the 7th round. This would be Ali’s last bout for over three and a half years.

A week later, on March 29, 1967, the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky refused to grant an injunction against Ali’s induction into military service prior to presenting himself at an Induction Station. Ali v. Breathitt, 268 F.Supp. 63, 65 (W.D. Ky. 1967). Subsequently, the Supreme Court of the United States denied the application for stay of the District Court’s order. Therefore, Muhammad Ali was required to submit to induction into the armed forces.

Criminal Conviction and Appeals

On April 28, 1967, Muhammad Ali reported for but declined to submit to induction into the armed forces on the grounds of his religious beliefs as a minister of the Islamic Religion. On May 9, a federal grand jury indicted him for his refusal.

On June 20, 1967, Ali’s federal criminal jury trial resulted in his conviction for knowingly and willfully refusing to submit to induction into the armed forces of the United States.  Although he had no prior criminal record or charges, Ali was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Imprisonment was delayed pending the results of Ali’s appeals. He was freed upon a $5,000 bond.

On January 30, 1968, the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive on the U.S. Embassy inflicted many casualties, inflicting a psychological blow to the war effort. It also caused the press to move toward a more liberal view of the Vietnam War, questioning its efficacy or need.

On March 31, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that he would not run for a second term of office.  Four days later, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

On May 6, 1968, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, satisfied that he had been fairly afforded due process of law without discrimination, affirmed Muhammad Ali’s conviction for refusing to submit to induction into the armed forces of the United States. Clay v. United States, 397 F.2d 901 (5th. Cir., 1968). Ali’s appeal sought a declaration that the Universal Military Training and Service Act was unconstitutional as applied to him because of “systematic exclusion” of blacks from membership on draft boards, and that there was no basis in fact for the denial of his ministerial exemption or the conscientious objector status.

Due Process–Black Representation on Draft Boards

Ali’s first basis of appeal claimed that he was denied due process of law because the ratio of blacks on draft boards did not reflect their ratio in the population. Ali was correct that there was not only a local imbalance, but a nationwide imbalance of black membership on draft boards. However, the court found that the absence of a proportion of blacks on draft boards in accordance with their ratio to the population was not a violation of the law.

The racial imbalance on draft boards resulted from the federal appointments by the President upon recommendations of the governors of each state. The appointments were the result of the political process, which does not require such appointments to reflect population ratios. The court compared appointments as a result of the political process to a malapportioned legislature. The court held that acts of such a legislature are not invalid. There is no right to be classified and inducted by a selective service board composed of a percentage of black members which the black population bears to the total population.

Even if Ali’s objection regarding the proportionality of blacks on draft boards was valid, it could not stand in light of the fact that a three member board which was onethird black had unanimously classified him eligible for service (1-A). The Presidential Appeal Board acts for the President himself, as it is the President who is vested with the functions and duties of the determination of questions with respect to inclusion for, or exemption from military service. The Appeal Board considers matters of classification de novo. That is, its classification is one of first instance and not a mere affirmation or reversal of the Local Board. Any prejudice or error on the local level is cured by a fair and fresh consideration on appeal, because the action of the board of appeals completely supersedes the action of the local board. One of the three members of the Presidential Appeal Board was black, and therefore Ali’s draft status ultimately was determined by an appeal board which was 33% black, reflecting a greater percentage of blacks than in the population as a whole.

The court noted that Ali had been classified 1-A on seven different occasions; on four different occasions, Ali was classified 1-A (available for military service) by his local board, twice more by appeal boards in Kentucky and Texas, and once by the National Selective Service Appeal Board. All votes were unanimous. Ali was afforded every procedure known to the Act and the regulations, and an appeal to the Presidential Appeal Board to which he was not specifically entitled.

Denial of the Ministerial Exemption 

The scope of review of local board decisions in draft cases is very limited, and the range of review the narrowest known to the law. The court has authority to reverse only if there is a denial of basic procedural fairness or if the conclusion of the board is without any factual basis.

Ali claimed that the denial of the requested ministerial exemption from military service was without any factual basis. A Congressionally created exemption from military service includes regular or duly ordained ministers of religion. A regular minister of religion is one who teaches the principles of religion as his customary vocation. A regular minister of religion must be recognized by his or her church, sect, or organization as a regular minister, although he or she does not necessarily have to be formally ordained as a minister of religion. The exemption is intended for the leaders of the various religious faiths and not for the members generally. Preaching or teaching the principles of one’s sect, if performed part-time, occasionally or irregularly, are insufficient to bring a registrant under the exemption. The activities must be regularly performed and comprise the registrant’s vocation, and the registrant must have a recognized standing as a minister.

The court found the evidence which the local board had before it was much more than necessary to constitute a “basis in fact” for Ali’s 1-A classification and denial of the ministerial exemption. Ali was certified as a minister by the National Secretary of the Lost Found Nation of Islam and by its leader, Elijah Muhammad. He contended that he spent 90% of his time on his ministerial duties. However, although he contended he became a minister in 1964, his vocation appeared to be professional boxer. In the first information which he supplied to his local board on selective service forms, his occupation was shown to be that of “professional boxer” and “professional prizefighter.” The Report of Medical History dated January 24, 1964 showed his usual occupation to be “boxing.” His Current Information Questionnaire dated February 2, 1966 listed his occupation as a “professional boxer” and his work as “professional fighting.” Just three days prior to his reclassification to 1-A from 1-Y, Ali wrote Local Board No. 47 on February 14, 1966, stating, “My occupation is professional boxer, and I am at present the Heavyweight Champion of the World.”

Even when he filled out the Special Form for Conscientious Objector dated February 28, 1966, though claiming to be a member of the Nation of Islam, he did not claim to be a minister. His March 17, 1966 letter to the Local Board No. 47 protested that his reclassification imposed “grave hardship upon me as heavyweight champion of the world at now age 24.” Finally, when he appeared in person before the Local Board on March 19, 1966, boxing was listed as his livelihood. Accordingly, the court held Muhammad Ali’s vocation clearly was that of a professional boxer.

Denial of Conscientious Objector Status

“The knowledge that military service must sometimes be borne by – and imposed on – free men so their freedom may be preserved is woven deeply into the fabric of the American experience.” – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Message on Selective Service to the Congress, March 6, 1967.

Technically, every adult American citizen may be compelled to serve in the armed forces. There is no constitutional right to exemption from service for conscientious objector or ministerial status. However, Congress is empowered to create exemptions from military service. Therefore, the conscientious objector or ministerial exemptions from military service are purely matters of Congressional legislative grace.

Muhammad Ali’s appeal also claimed there was no factual basis for the denial of his status as a conscientious objector. Under the law, only a general scruple against participation in war in any form can support a claim for conscientious objector status. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that there was more than adequate evidence to justify the rejection of Ali’s claim, for he did not object to participation in war in any form.

Ali’s claim that he was a conscientious objector began on February 18, 1966, one day after his reclassification to 1-A. In his appearance before Local Board No. 47 on March 19, 1966, Ali claimed hardship on account of taking care of his parents and paying alimony to his former wife. The board’s record stated, regarding Ali’s opposition to war, “His religion teaches them not to take part in any way with infidels or any nonreligious group.” Also, “Clay objects to being in service because he has no quarrel with the Viet Cong.”

Ali wrote a lengthy letter to his local board dated April 16, 1966 in which he repeated his above-referenced hardship claims. He protested that two years of military service would cause him serious financial loss in being unable to pursue his livelihood as a professional boxer. The letter read in part,

Two years is a very long time in the life of a heavyweight champ. . . I may never be able to overcome this time of loss of boxing sharpness and come back from the service and earn the kind of money required to pay off these financial obligations, even though they may be abated during the time of military service. I would therefore be in hock for the rest of my life, whereas if I can get in a few more fights, which are lined up through the fall of this year, I should be able to settle these permanent financial obligations from the money I should
get within this year, which I am at my peak of shape and am the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

The Local Board Reaffirmed the 1-A Classification.

The Department of Justice requested an F.B.I. investigation and a special hearing on the character and good faith of Ali’s conscientious objections. The special hearing was held on August 23, 1966. The hearing officer reported to the Department of Justice that Ali stated his views in a convincing manner and answered all questions forthrightly. He believed Ali was of good character, morals, and integrity and sincere in his objection on religious grounds to participation to war in any form. He recommended that the conscientious objector claim be sustained.

However, the Department of Justice opposed Ali’s claim, concluding that Ali’s objections to participation in war insofar as they were based upon the teachings of the Nation of Islam “rest on grounds which are primarily political and racial. These constitute objections to only certain types of war in certain circumstances, rather than a general scruple against participation in war in any form.” Therefore, Ali’s grounds for conscientious objector status were inconsistent with the legal requirements. At the F.B.I. special hearing, Ali stated,

If the Honorable Elijah Muhammad looked me in my face and he who I believe is directly from Allah, Almighty God Allah, and if he looked at me and advised me, which I’m sure he wouldn’t, to fight in any kind of war, if he advised me to I would. … I wouldn’t raise all this court stuff and I wouldn’t go through all of this and lose and give up the millions that I gave up and my image with the American public. . . if I wasn’t sincere in every bit of what the Holy Qur’an and the teaching of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad tell us and it is that we are not to participate in wars on the side of nobody who – – on the side of nonbelievers, and this is a Christian country and this is not a Muslim country, and the Government and the history and the facts shows that every move toward the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is made to distort and is made to ridicule him and is made to condemn him and the Government has admitted that the police of Los Angeles were wrong about attacking and killing our brothers and sisters and they were wrong in Newark, New Jersey, and they were wrong in Louisiana, and the outright, everyday oppressors and enemies are the people as a whole, the whites of this nation.

Ali also affirmed at the F.B.I. special hearing that he was correctly quoted by the Chicago Daily News on February 18, 1966 in stating, “I don’t have no personal quarrel with those Vietcongs . . . . Let me tell you, we Muslims are taught to defend
ourselves when we are attacked. Those Vietcong are not attacking me. . . .  Why should we Muslims get involved?”

The Nation of Islam’s teachings did not preclude fighting for the United States because of objections to participation in war in any form but rather because of objections to policies of the United States as interpreted by Elijah Muhammad.  Therefore, the court held there was adequate evidence to justify the rejections of Ali’s claim.  The court cited United States v. Spiro, 384 F.2d 159 (3rd Cir. 1967), cert. denied, 390 U.S. 956 (1968), in which the court upheld the denial of the conscientious objection claim of a Roman Catholic who said he would fight only in a “just war.” Ali, like the Roman Catholic, was not opposed to war in any form. Hence, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal.

In March, 1969, the W.B.C. declared the heavyweight title vacant because of Ali’s inability to defend the title as a result of his continuing legal problems. Ali had not fought for two years. No state would grant him a boxing license.

Influence of Illegal Government Wire Taps

On March 24, 1969, Muhammad Ali argued that his draft status and criminal conviction had been influenced improperly by illegal wire taps. The Supreme Court of the United States remanded Ali’s case to the lower court for a determination of whether electronic government surveillance used against him in his criminal trial was in violation of Ali’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Ali had been a party to five telephone conversations which agents of the F.B.I improperly and illegally had overheard electronically via the use of warrantless wiretaps. Ali had standing to challenge the legality of the surveillance even though it was not his telephone under surveillance, but the telephones of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elijah Muhammad. It was necessary to determine whether his conviction was tainted by the information obtained as a result of the illegal electronic surveillance.

The government conceded that the surveillance was illegal. However, the lower court was required to decide whether the evidence gathered against Ali grew out of his illegally overheard conversations or whether the evidence was obtained by means independent of the illegal wire taps so as to be purged of their influence. If the recommendation by the Department of Justice to deny Ali’s conscientious objector claim was based upon illegally obtained evidence and not upon independent properly
obtained evidence, the “basis in fact” which the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas used for his classification would have been defective.

A log of a March 24, 1964 wiretap of Elijah Muhammad’s phone (Log 2) stated, “Elijah said he wanted to see Clay as he was going to make a minister out of him when he quit thinking of fighting all the time.” Another log of a telephone surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Log 4) stated “C said that he is keeping up with MLK that MLK is his brother, and with him 100% but can’t take any chances, and that MLK should take care of himself, that MLK is known world wide and should watch out for them whities (sic) . . .” Ali attempted to show that because Log 2 reflected Elijah Muhammad’s wish that Ali become a minister, and because Log 4 reflected Ali’s reference to “them whiteys,” the logs would have an influence regarding his ministerial status and a bearing on the Department’s conclusion that his beliefs were political and racial, rather than religious.

On July 14, 1969, the lower court held not only was there positive testimony that the logs were not used at all in the preparation of the Department of Justice report, but the logs were “so totally innocuous” that they could not have had any bearing on the defendant’s conviction even if they were used. The Department of Justice’s duty was to submit a recommendation concerning Ali’s status as a conscientious objector, not a minister. Therefore Log 2, regarding Elijah Muhammad’s desire to make Ali a minister, was irrelevant because it had no bearing on whether Ali was entitled to conscientious objector status. The Department could have recommended Ali be granted conscientious objector status despite the fact that he was not a minister of his religion. Even if the issue had been before the Department, the court found that the independent evidence that Ali was not a minister was overwhelming.

The court also held that construing a passing reference to “them whiteys” as being the Department’s basis, or even partial reason, for holding Ali’s beliefs to be political and racial was “completely untenable.” The conversation was not a theological discussion and the common slang reference was not within a context which could have had any bearing on Ali’s beliefs. In addition, even if there had been such a context, there was ample evidence from an independent origin before the Department to conclude that the Muslim religion (as taught by Elijah Muhammad) held the white race in contempt. Elijah Muhammad had said in the Supreme Wisdom, “The white race or Caucasian European race is known to God and his prophets as Satan, the devil, the enemy of God and his people (the original nation) power was given to them to rule with evil and falsehood the darker nations for six thousand years. . . If you understood it right you will agree with me that the whole Caucasian Race is a race of devils.” Accordingly, the court found the information obtained in the wiretaps could
not have been relevant to Ali’s conviction. United States v. Clay, 386 F. Supp. 926 (S.D. Tex. 1969).

On July 6, 1970, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit once again upheld Ali’s conviction, holding that it was “clear from uncontradicted testimony that none of the information obtained in the five wiretapped telephone conversations was used in the F.B.I. investigation of defendant’s conscientious objector claim, or in the preparation of the adverse Department of Justice recommendation made in connection with defendant’s original request for conscientious objector classification.” United States of America, v. Cassius Marsellus Clay, Jr., 430 F.2d 165 (5th Cir. 1970).

On September 14, 1970, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Ali’s motion for a preliminary injunction restraining the New York State Athletic Commission from refusing to grant him a boxing license, holding that the Commission had violated Ali’s Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights, that its denial of his license was arbitrary and capricious, that Ali’s conviction for draft evasion had no rational relationship to the regulated activity of boxing, was irrelevant to the proper exercise of the Commission’s functions, and that the Commission had discriminated against him in violation of his rights under the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by granting licenses to other convicted criminals.

Although his criminal appeals were ongoing, Ali would be able to box again. In his first fight in three and a half years, on October 26, 1970 in Atlanta, Georgia, Muhammad Ali stopped Jerry Quarry on cuts after the 3rd round. On December 7 in New York, Ali knocked out Oscar Bonavena in the 15th round.

On March 8, 1971 in New York, billed as ‘The Fight,’ a bout for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, Muhammad Ali lost a unanimous 15-round decision to Joe Frazier. Although this was Ali’s first professional boxing loss, there was another round to be fought, more important to Muhammad Ali than any boxing match . . .

The Final Round – The U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Muhammad Ali’s legal appeals finally ended on June 28, 1971, when the Supreme Court of the United States addressed the denial of Ali’s application for conscientious objector status. In order to qualify for classification as a conscientious objector, a registrant must satisfy three tests:  He must show that he is conscientiously opposed to war in any form, that this opposition is based upon religious training and belief, and that the objection is sincere. If Ali failed any of the three tests, his conscientious objector claim could not be valid under the law.

The Court addressed the required opposition to war in any form. In addition to the statements cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Ali had testified that Islam did not allow war “unless declared by Allah himself, or unless it’s an Islamic World War, or a Holy War . . .” The Islamic just war, or jihad, was a war in which Ali would take part. Clearly, Ali was not opposed to war in any form.  Therefore, the Department of Justice had written a letter to the Appeal Board stating that Ali’s beliefs “do not appear to preclude military service in any form, but rather are limited to military service in the Armed Forces of the United States. … These constitute only objections to certain types of war in certain circumstances, rather than a general scruple against participation in war in any form. However, only a general scruple against participation in war in any form can support an exemption as a conscientious objector under the Act.” Because Ali was not opposed to war in any form as required by the law, he did not fulfill the requirements necessary for conscientious objector status.

The Department of Justice also had recommended rejection of Ali’s claim for two other reasons – because it believed that Ali’s opposition to the Vietnam War was not based upon religious belief, and because it questioned the sincerity of Ali’s beliefs. The Department letter to the Appeal Board stated, “It seems clear that the teachings of the Nation of Islam preclude fighting for the United States not because of objections to participation in war in any form but rather because of political and racial objections to policies of the United States as interpreted by Elijah Muhammad.” The letter also stated that Ali “has not consistently manifested his conscientious – objector claim. Such a course of overt manifestation is requisite to establishing a subjective state of mind and belief.” The Department criticized that Ali’s claim was not asserted until military service became imminent.

Upon receipt of the Department of Justice’s recommendation letter, the Appeal Board denied Ali’s conscientious objector claim without specifically identifying the reasons for the denial. Therefore, the Supreme Court did not know which reasons were relied upon by the Appeal Board as its grounds for the denial of the claim.

Despite the Department of Justice recommendation letter, the Government conceded on appeal that Ali’s beliefs indeed were based upon religious training and belief, as they were founded upon basic tenets of the Muslim religion. The Government also conceded that it no longer questioned the sincerity of Ali’s beliefs. It continued to argue that Ali should not be granted conscientious objector status because he did not object to war in any form, as required.

The Court held that the integrity of the Selective Service System demands that the Government not recommend illegal grounds. Although it remained clear that Ali
failed the requirement that he object to war in any form, because the Appeal Board did not state which of the three grounds it based its decision upon, the court could not speculate. It was not possible to know whether the Appeal Board denied Ali’s conscientious objector status because of only one ground for which denial was proper, or one or both of the improper grounds which the government conceded were wrong. Therefore, his conviction could not stand.

In conclusion, even though the Appeal Board could have denied Ali’s request for the singular reason that he did not object to war in any form, because two of the three grounds upon which the Department of Justice recommended denial of the claim were not valid, and the Appeal Board did not state which of the reasons it relied upon (hence the denial might have been based solely upon an invalid reason), the Supreme Court held that Ali’s conviction could not be upheld. Clay v. United States,  403 U.S. 698, 91 S.Ct. 2068, 29 L.Ed.2d 810 (1971).

As we know in boxing, a win is a win, whether it is a knockout, or a narrow points decision, or a win via disqualification. In this instance, in an 8-0 decision, Muhammad Ali’s conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The facts herein primarily are taken from  Clay v. United States,  403 U.S. 698, 91 S.Ct. 2068, 29 L.Ed.2d 810 (1971); United States v. Clay, 430 F.2d 165 (5th Cir. 1970); United States v. Clay, 386 F. Supp. 926 (S.D. Tex. 1969); Clay v. United States, 397 F.2d 901 (5th. Cir., 1968).

*Adam J. Pollack is a distinguished Iowa College of Law graduate, attorney, and boxing judge who practices law in Iowa. Adam has been active in the sport of boxing as both boxer and coach, and we are proud to post his discussion of the late great Muhammad Ali’s lesser known constitutional law bout with the New York State Athletic Commission.



History …the Month of February — a whole lot happened

February 1

1960 – In Greensboro, North Carolina, four African American students sat down and ordered coffee at a lunch counter inside a Woolworth’s store. They were refused service, but did not leave. Instead, they waited all day. The scene was repeated over the next few days, with protests spreading to other southern states, resulting in the eventual arrest of over 1,600 persons for participating in sit-ins.

 2003 – Sixteen minutes before it was scheduled to land, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart in flight over west Texas, killing all seven crew members. The accident may have resulted from damage caused during liftoff when a piece of insulating foam from the external fuel tank broke off, piercing a hole in the shuttle’s left wing that allowed hot gases to penetrate the wing upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This was the second space shuttle lost in flight. In January 1986, Challenger exploded during liftoff.

February 2

1848 – The war between the U.S. and Mexico ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In exchange for $15 million, the U.S. acquired the areas encompassing parts or all of present day California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas. The treaty was ratified on March 10, 1848.

1990 – In South Africa, the 30-year-old ban on the African National Congress was lifted by President F.W. de Klerk, who also promised to free Nelson Mandela and remove restrictions on political opposition groups.

1848 – The first shipload of Chinese emigrants arrived in San Francisco, CA.

1865 – A four-hour peace conference occurred between President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens at Hampton Roads, Virginia. The meeting was unsuccessful as President Lincoln insisted there could be no armistice until the Confederates acknowledged Federal authority. The Confederates wanted an armistice first. Thus the Civil Warcontinued.

 1870 – The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the right of citizens to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

February 3

1783 – Spain recognized the independence of the United States.

 1913 – The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting Congress the authority to collect income taxes.

1947 – Percival Prattisbecame the first black news correspondent admitted to the House and Senate press gallery in Washington, DC. He worked for “Our World” in New York City.

2009 – Eric Holder was sworn in as attorney general. He was the first African-American to hold the post.

1943 – An extraordinary act of heroism occurred in the icy waters off Greenland after the U.S. Army transport ship Dorchester was hit by a German torpedo and began to sink rapidly. When it became apparent there were not enough life jackets, four U.S. Army chaplains on board removed theirs, handed them to frightened young soldiers, and chose to go down with the ship while praying.

February 4

1861 – Apache Chief Cochise was arrested in Arizona by the U.S. Army for raiding a ranch. Cochise then escaped and declared war, beginning the period known as the Apache Wars, which lasted 25 years.

1985 Twenty countries in the United Nations signed a document entitled “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

February 5 

 1917 – The new constitution of Mexico, allowing for sweeping social changes, was adopted.

February 6

 1788 – Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the new U.S. Constitution, by a vote of 187 to 168.

1933 – The 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted. It set the date for the Presidential Inauguration as January 20th, instead of the old date of March 4th. It also sets January 3rd as the official opening date of Congress.

 1952 – King George VI of England died. Upon his death, his daughter Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Her actual coronation took place on June 2, 1953.

February 7

1795 – The 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting the powers of the Federal Judiciary over the states by prohibiting Federal lawsuits against individual states

February 8

1587 – Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was beheaded at Fotheringhay, England, after 19 years as a prisoner of Queen Elizabeth I. She became entangled in the complex political events surrounding the Protestant Reformation in England and was charged with complicity in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth.

February 9 –

On February 9, 1971, pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige becomes the first Negro League veteran to be nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame. In August of that year, Paige, a pitching legend known for his fastball, showmanship and the longevity of his playing career, which spanned five decades, was inducted. Joe DiMaggio once called Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.”

1773, future President William Henry Harrison is born on the Berkeley Plantation in Virginia. Harrison went on to serve as the ninth U.S. president for a brief 32 days in 1841, the shortest term ever served. Harrison is also credited with the record for the …read more

1942 – Congress pushes ahead standard time for the United States by one hour in each time zone, imposing daylight saving time—called at the time “war time.” READ MORE: 8 Things You May Not Know About Daylight Saving Time Daylight saving time, suggested by President Roosevelt, was …read more

February 10,

1942 – The first Medal of Honor during World War II was awarded to 2nd Lt. Alexander Nininger (posthumously) for heroism during the Battle of Bataan.

1967 – The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, clarifying the procedures for presidential succession in the event of the disability of a sitting president.

February 11

660BC – Celebrated in Japan as the founding date of the Japanese nation, which occurred with the accession to the throne of the first Emperor, Jimmu, in 660 BC.

 1929 – Italian dictator Benito Mussolini granted political independence to Vatican City and recognized the sovereignty of the Pope (Holy See) over the area, measuring about 110 acres.
1958 – Ruth Carol Taylor was the first black woman to become a stewardess by making her initial flight.

1990 – In South Africa, Nelson Mandela, at age 71, was released from prison after serving 27 years of a life sentence on charges of attempting to overthrow the apartheid government. In April 1994, he was elected president in the first all-race elections.

2011 – In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak resigned amid a massive protest calling for his ouster. Thousands of young Egyptians and others had protested non-stop for 18 days in Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere. Mubarak had ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years, functioning as a virtual dictator.

February 12

February 13

 1635 – Boston Latin School, the first tax-payer supported (public) school in America was established in Boston, Massachusetts.

 1945 – During World War II in Europe, British and American planes began massive bombing raids on Dresden, Germany. A four-day firestorm erupted that was visible for 200 miles and engulfed the historic old city, killing an estimated 135,000 German civilians.

February 14

14th – Celebrated as (Saint) Valentine’s Day around the world, now one of the most widely observed unofficial holidays in which romantic greeting cards and gifts are exchanged.

1849 – Photographer Mathew Brady took the first photograph of a U.S. President in office, James Polk.

 1929 – The St. Valentine’s Day massacre occurred in Chicago as seven members of the Bugs Moran gang were gunned down by five of Al Capone‘s mobsters posing as police.

February 15 

1898 – In Havana, the U.S. Battleship Maine was blown up while at anchor and quickly sank with 260 crew members lost. The incident inflamed public opinion in the U.S., resulting in a declaration of war against Spain on April 25, 1898, amid cries of “Remember the Maine!”

 1933 – An assassination attempt on newly elected U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt occurred in Miami, Florida. A spectator deflected the gunman’s aim. As a result, Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak was shot and killed instead. The gunman, an Italian immigrant, was captured and later sentenced to death.

1989 – Soviet Russia completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan after nine years of unsuccessful involvement in the civil war between Muslim rebel groups and the Russian-backed Afghan government. Over 15,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the fighting.

February 16

February 17

 1865 – During the American Civil War, Fort Sumter in South Carolina was returned to the Union after nearly a year and a half under Confederate control. The fort had been the scene of the first shots of the war.

 1909 – Apache Chief Geronimo (1829-1909) died while in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He had led a small group of warriors on raids throughout Arizona and New Mexico. Caught once, he escaped. The U.S. Army then sent 5,000 men to recapture him.

February 18

1841 – The first continuous filibuster in the U.S. Senate began. It lasted until March 11th.

1952 – Greece and Turkey became members of NATO

2001 – FBI agent Robert Philip Hanssen was arrested and accused of spying for Russia for more than 15 years. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

1998 – In Nevada, two white separatists were arrested and accused of plotting a bacterial attack on subways in New York City.

1970 – The Chicago Seven defendants were found innocent of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention.

1998 – In Russia, money shortages resulted in the shutting down of three plants that produced nuclear weapons.

1885 – Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was published in the U.S. for the first time.

1930 – The planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh. The discovery was made as a result of photographs taken in January 1930.

February 19

Daisy Gatson Bates Day honors the life of Daisy Gatson Bates, a civil rights activist who played a key role in an integration crisis at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Daisy Gatson Bates Day is a state holiday in Arkansas, the United States, on the third Monday of February, together with Washington’s Birthday.

1942 – Internment of Japanese Americans began after President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order requiring those living on the Pacific coast to report for relocation. Over 110,000 persons therefore shut down their businesses, sold off their property, quit school and moved inland to the relocation centers.

Washington’s Birthday, also known as Presidents’ Day, is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of February. The day honors presidents of the United States, including George Washington, the USA’s first president.

1807 – Former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr was arrested in Alabama. He was later tried and acquitted on charges of treason

1942 – U.S. President Roosevelt signed an executive order giving the military the authority to relocate and intern Japanese-Americans.

1953 – The State of Georgia approved the first literature censorship board in the U.S. Newspapers were excluded from the new legislation.

2004 – Former Enron Corp. chief executive Jeffrey Skilling was charged with fraud, insider trading and other crimes in connection with the energy trader’s collapse. Skilling was later convicted and sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.

February 20

 1943 – German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel broke through American lines at Kasserine Pass in North Africa as inexperienced U.S. Troops lost their first major battle of World War II in Europe, with 1,000 Americans killed.

1962 – Astronaut John Glenn became the first American launched into orbit. Traveling aboard the “Friendship 7” spacecraft, Glenn reached an altitude of 162 miles (260 kilometers) and completed three orbits in a flight lasting just under five hours. Glenn was the third American in space, preceded by Alan Shepard and Virgil “Gus” Grissom who had each completed short sub-orbital flights. All of them had been preceded by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who was the first human in space, completing one orbit on April 12, 1961 – a feat that intensified the already ongoing Space Race between the Russians and Americans. Glenn’s successful flight showed the Americans had caught up and was followed in September 1962 by President John F. Kennedy’s open call to land an American on the moon before the decade’s end.

1952 – Emmett L. Ashford became the first black umpire in organized baseball. He was authorized to be a substitute in the Southwestern International League.

1962 – John Glenn made space history when he orbited the world three times in 4 hours, 55 minutes. He was the first American to orbit the Earth. He was aboard the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule. Glenn witnessed the Devil’s Cigarette Lighter while in flight.

1987 – A bomb exploded in a computer store in Salt Lake City, UT. The blast was blamed on the Unabomber.

February 21

1965 – Former Black Muslim leader Malcolm X (1925-1965) was shot and killed while delivering a speech in a ballroom in New York City.

 1972 – President Richard Nixon arrived in China for historic meetings with Chairman Mao Tse-tung and Premier Chou En-lai.

1994 – CIA agent Aldrich Ames was arrested on charges he spied for the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991.

February 22

 1956 – In Montgomery, Alabama, 80 participants in the three-month-old bus boycott voluntarily gave themselves up for arrest after an ultimatum from white city leaders. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were among those arrested. Later in 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated desegregation of the buses.

Birthday – George Washington (1732-1799) was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He served as commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and became the first U.S. President.

February 23

1942 – During World War II, the first attack on the U.S. mainland occurred as a Japanese submarine shelled an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing minor damage.

1991 – In Desert Storm, the Allied ground offensive began after a devastating month-long air campaign targeting Iraqi troops in both Iraq and Kuwait.

Birthday – African American educator and leader W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Birthday – Historian William L. Shirer (1904-1993) was born in Chicago, Illinois. As a news reporter stationed in Europe, he witnessed the rise of Adolf Hitler and reported on the surrender of France. Following the war he wrote the first major history of Nazi Germany, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

February 24

1582 – Pope Gregory XIII corrected mistakes on the Julian calendar by dropping 10 days and directing that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15th. The Gregorian, or New Style calendar, was then adopted by Catholic countries, followed gradually by Protestant and other nations.

1867 – The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. The vote followed bitter opposition by the Radical Republicans in Congress toward Johnson’s reconstruction policies in the South. However, the effort to remove him failed in the Senate by just one vote.

February 25 

Birthday – Millicent Fenwick (1910-1992) was born in New York City. She championed liberal causes, serving as a member of the U.N. General Assembly and as a U.S. Congresswoman.

February 26

1848 – The Communist Manifesto pamphlet was published by two young socialists, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It advocated the abolition of all private property and a system in which workers own all means of production, land, factories and machinery.

 1994 – Political foes of Russian President Boris Yeltsin were freed by a general amnesty granted by the new Russian Parliament.

Birthday – American frontiersman “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917) was born in Scott County, Indiana. He claimed to have killed over 4,000 buffalo within 17 months. He became world famous through his Wild West show which traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe for 30 years.

February 27

 1950-1951  – The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting the president to two terms or a maximum of ten years in office.

1991 – In Desert Storm, the 100-hour ground war ended as Allied troops entered Kuwait just four days after launching their offensive against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces.

Birthday – American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was born in Portland, Maine. Best known for Paul Revere’s RideThe Song of Hiawatha, and The Wreck of the Hesperus.

February 28

 1844 – During a demonstration of naval fire power, one of the guns aboard the USS Princeton exploded, killing several top U.S. government officials on the steamer ship, and narrowly missed killing President John Tyler.

1986 – Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (1927-1986) was assassinated in Stockholm while exiting a movie theater with his wife.

 1994 – NATO conducted its first combat action in its 45 year history as four Bosnian Serb jets were shot down by American fighters in a no-fly zone.