Ernst, Morris L. (Morris Leopold), 1888-1976

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Contains some correspondence to Dreiser from Ernst's wife, Margaret Ernst.

From the description of Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1928-1937. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155898781

Lawyer.

From the description of Papers, 1948-1950. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 162204529

From the description of Reminiscences of Morris Leopold Ernst : oral history, 1965. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122608761

Ernst (1888-1976) was a lawyer who represented physician Hannah Stone in United States v. One Package of Pessaries, a successful legal action against the U.S. government, which had seized some contraceptives shipped to Stone from Japan.

From the description of Papers, 1933-1937 ((inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232006592

Morris Leopold Ernst was born in 1888. He attended schools in New York and received his LL.B. in 1912, after which he became a partner in the law firm of Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst. Although he handled many diverse cases, his most publicized cases involved issues of literary censorship when he waged battles against federal, state, local and religious agencies.

Con't: His most celebrated case was his landmark victory in favor of the publication of James Joyce's Ulysses. During his years of legal practice, he began collecting examples of books that had been banned at different times, places & under varying circumstances.

From the description of Morris L. Ernst Banned Books Collection, ca. 1956-1990. (University of California, Santa Barbara). WorldCat record id: 213892980

Biography

Morris Leopold Ernst was born on August 23, 1888 in Uniontown, Alabama. His father, a Czech immigrant, was a pushcart peddler who later became the owner of a small general store and of a small loan company. Ernst's mother was one of the earliest graduates of a woman's college, Hunter, in 1884. When Ernst was two years of age, his father moved the family to New York City where the senior Ernst was active, and for the most part quite successful, in real estate ventures. Morris Ernst attended public schools in New York and graduated from Horace Mann High School at the age of sixteen. He earned a B.A. degree from Williams College in 1909. From 1909 to 1915, Ernst worked in various office positions in the retail industry while studying evenings at the New York School of Law. He received his LL.B. in 1912 and was admitted to the bar the following year, but did not enter into the formal practice of law until 1915 when he became a partner in the firm of Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst. Ernst remained associated with the firm until his death.

Ernst was an able court lawyer, ingenious and persuasive in trials and adept in handling clients. He enjoyed litigation and took delight in representing clients as diverse as the Dramatists Guild and the Sauerkraut Workers Union. Ernst was renowned for his expertise in the areas of labor, tax, libel, and censorship legislation. Over the years he served as counsel for, among others, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New Yorker magazine, the New York Post, the Planned Parenthood Federation, and the American Newspaper Guild. In 1937, Ernst gained a key ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States which established the right of newsmen to organize, a right that eventually was to include workers in all the news media.

Ernst's most publicized cases, however, involved issues of literary censorship. For many years he waged a battle against various federal, state, local and religious agencies with regard to their censorship policies. He won cases which allowed the general sale of works such as Marie Stopes' Married Love and Arthur Schnitzler's Cassanova's Homecoming . His most celebrated case in this area was his landmark victory in favor of the publication of James Joyce's Ulysses . The work had been originally published in Paris in 1922 to great acclaim. For ten years copies were smuggled into the United States where it was as known in some quarters as much for its alleged "obscenity" as for its literary merits.

In 1933, the newly established Random House attempted to publish Ulysses and was met by immediate opposition to do so by the U.S. government which sought to confiscate the work under the provisions of the Tariff Act of 1930 which forbade the importation of works deemed to be obscene. As counsel for the publisher, Ernst argued for the literary merits of the work as a whole. He challenged the idea that sexually frank passages and four-letter words in themselves constituted pornography as defined by government censorship standards of the time. His arguments convinced the judge who wrote in his opinion that despite his finding parts of the work "disgusting...[E]ach word of the book contributes like a bit of mosaic to the detail of the picture Joyce is seeking to construct for his readers."

During his years of legal practice, Ernst began to collect examples of books that had been banned at different times and places and under varying circumstances. Comprising some 700 volumes, the collection was, in Ernst's words, made up of works "which disturbed the sovereign-whether church, state or private group of censors which concluded that each volume was dangerous to the peace of mind of the society, or which part of the society was to be denied the right to read." The collection contains works as diverse as Homer's Odyssey, Confucius' Analects, Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, all having in common only the fact that at some time, in some place, someone or some organization has found them threatening to the prevailing order and caused them to be banned.

Ernst was active in political and legal affairs throughout his long life and wrote widely on those issues that interested him: censorship, economic and social conditions, political problems and legal issues. He also wrote several works about his life and legal career (see section on Related Materials). He held a number of city, state and national government posts, serving under Fiorello La Guardia, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman in various capacities. Under Truman he served on the President's Civil Rights Commission.

Ernst was not afraid to align himself with a less than popular cause that provoked the dismay of his friends and political allies. In 1957 he undertook a case in which he defended the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. Some observers had charged the government with complicity in the disappearance and suspected death of one of its critics. Ernst's report effectively cleared the government of any involvement. Subsequent evidence seemed to cast doubt on Ernst's findings. Although Ernst then called for a large-scale Congressional investigation to look fully into the matter, he defended his initial role, asserting that even unpopular causes were entitled to counsel and stating his belief "in the old tradition that a man has a right to a lawyer."

Ernst demonstrated a similar sensibility even when it might be applied to the areas of freedom of expression and censorship where he fought so many battles. On several occasions towards the end of his life Ernst made clear the fact that he had never been in favor of complete freedom of expression with "no limits." In particular, he voiced concern regarding the changing role of the news media and the causal role of televised violence.

Ernst, writing about his collection, noted: "[It] has amused me for many reasons, even though it is little more than samples of man's folly [and] fears in different climes and at different moments in history." The issues that Ernst documented by means of his collection, although transformed by evolving political and social mores and standards, remain relevant and central to the debates that shape today's society and culture.

From the guide to the Morris L. Ernst Banned Books Collection, ca. 1956-1990, (University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Raushenbush, Elizabeth Brandeis. Paul A. Raushenbush and Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush papers, 1918-1980. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Marshall, Lenore, 1897-1971. Papers, 1887-1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn GABOR, Professor Dennis (1900-1979), 1911-1985 Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Brennan, William J. (William Joseph), 1906-1997. William J. Brennan papers, 1945-1998 (bulk 1956-1990). Library of Congress
referencedIn Ann Bridge [pseudonym of Mary Dolling Sanders O'Malley] Papers TXRC95-A3., 1815-1973, bulk 1905-1973 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn New York Times Company records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger papers, 1823-1999 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Freund, Paul A. Paul A. Freund papers. 1918-1993. Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Riis, Roger William, b. 1894. Roger William Riis papers, 1903-1990 (bulk 1921-1952). Library of Congress
creatorOf Ernst, Morris Leopold, 1888-1976. Letter, 1967, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Hand, Learned, 1872-1961. Papers, 1840-1961 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn New York Times Company records. A.M. Rosenthal papers, 1955-1994, 1967-1986 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947. Papers: Series II, 1894-1948 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Thomas J. Dodd Papers, undated, 1919-1971. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries
creatorOf Bridge, Ann, 1889-1974. Papers, 1815-1973, (bulk 1905-1973). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Leffingwell, R. C. (Russell Cornell), 1883-1960. Russell Cornell Leffingwell papers, 1883-1979 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Mellett, Lowell, 1884-1960. Papers, 1938-1944. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Ernst, Morris Leopold, 1888-1976. Papers, 1933-1937 ((inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Donald and Katharine Foley Collection of Penguin Books, 1935-1965 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Chester Bowles papers, 1924-1982 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn George Sarton additional papers, 1901-1956 Houghton Library
referencedIn American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. Records, 1938-1982. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Kluger, Richard. Brown vs. Board of Education collection, 1950-1975 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Bergman, Bernard Aaron, 1894-1980. Papers, 1933-1978. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Welles mss., 1930-1950, (Bulk 1936-1947) Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Research materials on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1910-1972 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Ransom, Harry Huntt, 1908-1976. Ransom, Harry Huntt, papers, 1930-1967. University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Frank, Jerome, 1889-1957. Jerome New Frank papers, 1918-1972 (inclusive), 1929-1957 (bulk). Yale University Library
creatorOf Ernst, Morris Leopold, 1888-1976. Papers, 1948-1950. Indiana University
creatorOf Ernst, Morris Leopold, 1888-1976. Reminiscences of Morris Leopold Ernst : oral history, 1965. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947. Additional papers of Mary Ware Dennett, 1892-1945 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Kirchwey, Freda, 1893-1976. Papers, 1871-1972 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Cousins, Margaret, 1905-1996. Papers, 1921-1973. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Harry Weinberger papers, 1915-1944 Yale University Library
creatorOf Ernst, Morris Leopold, 1888-1976. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1928-1937. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Thomas J. Dodd Papers, undated, 1919-1971. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries
referencedIn Rose, Florence. Papers, 1832-1970 bulk 1920-1969. Smith College, Neilson Library
creatorOf Ernst, Morris Leopold, 1888-1976. Morris L. Ernst Banned Books Collection, ca. 1956-1990. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Jerome New Frank papers, 1918-1972 (bulk 1929-1957) Yale University Library
referencedIn Ehrmann, Herbert Brutus, 1891-1970. Papers of Herbert Brutus Ehrmann, 1906-1970 (inclusive), 1926-1968 (bulk). Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
referencedIn Willard L. (AC 1920) and Clarice Brows Thorp Papers, 1857-1994, 1920-1967 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn American Civil Liberties Union. Illinois Division. Records, 1920-1982 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Joseph Barnes Papers, 1923-1970 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Kirchwey, Freda. Papers, 1871-1972 (inclusive), 1937-1971 (bulk) [microform]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn John Foster Dulles oral history collection, 1964-1967 Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections.Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Public Policy Papers.
referencedIn Joseph Barnes Papers, 1923-1970 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
creatorOf Morris L. Ernst Banned Books Collection, ca. 1956-1990 University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. corporateBody
associatedWith Barnes, Joseph, 1907-1970. person
associatedWith Bergman, Bernard Aaron, 1894-1980. person
correspondedWith Bok, Curtis, 1897-1962 person
associatedWith Bowles, Chester, 1901-1986. person
correspondedWith Brennan, William J. (William Joseph), 1906-1997. person
associatedWith Bridge, Ann, 1889-1974 person
associatedWith Cousins, Margaret, 1905-1996. person
associatedWith Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947. person
correspondedWith Dodd, Thomas J. (Thomas Joseph), 1907-1971 person
associatedWith Ehrmann, Herbert Brutus, 1891-1970. person
associatedWith Ernst, Margaret. person
associatedWith Foley, Donald L. person
associatedWith Foley, Katharine person
associatedWith Frank, Jerome, 1889-1957. person
associatedWith FREDA KIRCHWEY, 1893-1976 person
associatedWith Gabor, Dennis, 1900-1979 person
associatedWith Gordon Firm (Philadelphia, Pa.), corporateBody
associatedWith Greenbaum, Wolff and Ernst (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Hand, Learned, 1872-1961 person
associatedWith Herbert Packer person
associatedWith Kirchwey, Freda. person
associatedWith Kluger, Richard. person
associatedWith Leffingwell, R. C. (Russell Cornell), 1883-1960. person
associatedWith Marshall, Lenore, 1897-1971. person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Mellett, Lowell, 1884-1960. person
associatedWith Michael Smith person
associatedWith New York Times Company corporateBody
associatedWith Paul A. Freund person
associatedWith Pilpel, Harriet F., 1911- person
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Ransom, Harry Huntt, 1908-1976. person
associatedWith Raushenbush, Elizabeth Brandeis. person
correspondedWith Riis, Roger William, b. 1894. person
associatedWith Rose, Florence. person
associatedWith Rose, Florence, 1902?-1969. person
associatedWith Rosenthal, A. M. (Abraham Michael), 1922-2006 person
associatedWith Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966. person
associatedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
associatedWith Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Stone, Hannah Mayer, 1893-1941. person
associatedWith Thorp, Willard Long, 1899-1992 person
associatedWith United States. corporateBody
associatedWith Weinberger, Harry, 1888- person
associatedWith Welles, Orson, 1915-1985 person
associatedWith Yorburg, Betty, person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
United States
Pennsylvania
Subject
Socialism
Obscenity (law)
Censorship
Trials (Obscenity)
Birth control--law and legislation
Prohibited books
Lawyers--Interviews
Censorship--United States
Occupation
Lawyers
Physicians
Function

Person

Birth 1888-08-23

Death 1976-05-21

Male

Americans

English

Information

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