Obituary: Vincent Hallinan

Vincent William Hallinan, lawyer, born 16 December 1897, died San Francisco 2 October 1992.

THE DEATH of Vincent Hallinan removes one of the last survivors of that small group of American lawyers who were prepared to risk everything in the 1940s and 1950s to defend the victims of anti-Communist witch- hunts.

It reminds us of two other things. Although film stars and the media have been given most attention by historians of those terrible years, the real price was paid not by the Hollywood Ten but by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people hounded out of work and discredited because of political beliefs or friendships formed in the 1930s.

Secondly, while Senator Joe McCarthy gets all the blame, the real damage had been done long before, not just by the notorious House Committee on Un-American Activities, but by the executive and judicial branches of the Federal government as well.

Nothing illustrates this more clearly than Vincent Hallinan's experience defending the Californian waterfront workers' leader Harry Bridges. Hallinan, born Catholic, became agnostic and socialist and was deeply influenced by Popular Front reaction to the Great Depression and resistance to the rise of Fascism in the 1930s.

Bridges, an Australian-born Catholic, had formed a breakaway left-wing union and led the 1935 San Francisco general strike. From that point the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and the whole American right tried to get Bridges deported.

They failed, thanks largely to Hallinan's defence. The government had to prove not only that Bridges was a member of the Communist Party (which was hard enough), but that he had been so before entering the US and lied about it.

At one point while Bridges was freed, Hallinan was jailed for contempt of court. 'That's what being a good lawyer is all about,' he explained. At another he ran for President as a Progressive with a black woman in 1952, at the height of the anti-Communist crusade, and came third behind Eisenhower and Stevenson, polling 135,000 votes.

The Supreme Court finally ruled in favour of Bridges in 1955, a courageous decision by the Warren court after two decades in which the government had tried harder to nail him than any other man.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living