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Davis Says He Stood Only On First Amendment

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Davis Says He Stood Only On First Amendment

Editor, Ann Arbor News: George G. Laites' interesting letter has one error of omission. He says of Prof. Nickerson, Prof. Markert, and myself that we "would have preferred to stand exclusively upon the First Amendment.” I, in fact, did stand exclusively upon the First Amendment.

When the Clardy Committee questioned me concerning my political activities and my friends, maintaining all the time that it was exposing a scandalous conspiracy, I claim it was restricting the free speech of all of us; it was tending to replace reasoned political judgment by intimidation and name-calling. Accordingly, I denied there was any legal obligation that I answer (Mr. Cardy disagreed); and I think there was a moral obligation not to answer.

As Prof. Laties says, the other two faculty witnesses agreed with this. They also invoked the Fifth Amendment, however. (They had a clear right to do so. The most law-abiding citizen may have cause to fear unjust prosecution, and he is surely not obliged to help make a case against himself.) I avoided using the Fifth Amendment to avoid confusion. My refusal to answer some of Mr. Clardy's questions was not to hide any past misdeeds. I do not promote violence, but free discussion. I am not a spy or any other kind of criminal. Knowing that, why should anyone insist I label myself politically?

H. Chandler Davis.