Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights

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Template:TOCnestleft Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights has fought for 43 years against "government encroachment on our constitutional rights in all its forms. CCDBR began as part of the struggle to disband the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC), played a major role in the opposition to Chicago Police "Red Squad" spying in the seventies, and in 2003 helped facilitate the passage of the Chicago City Council Resolution against The Patriot Act"[1].


CCDBR was founded in 1960 as the Midwest office of the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (now re-named the Defending Dissent Foundation.) Its goal, then and now, has been to "organize, educate and work for legislation that will protect our precious First Amendment and due process rights".

CCDBR cut its teeth on the successful struggle to abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), which was used to smear progressives and destroy their careers. During the Nixon administration, CCDBR took part in the successful campaign to block the repressive "Omnibus Criminal Code." In 1969 we played a key role in organizing the broadly based Alliance to End Repression, which in 1970 filed the famous Red Squad Suit to stop the Chicago police from their century-old activity of spying on and trying to disrupt dissident political activity. By 1981, CCDBR was a proud signatory of the Alliance/ACLU/ consent decree prohibiting such practices.
During the Reagan administration, CCDBR was active in blocking further repressive initiatives such as the attempt to revive HUAC under another name. We also denounced efforts of the FBI to target Afican-American elected officials through bogus "corruption" investigations.
Then we joined a second battle to save the consent decree on police spying. In 1997, the City of Chicago went back to federal court (even as it is now doing re. the Shakman decree) to try to gut the decree. CCDBR, working with the Allinance's attorney, did the legwork in community organizing and education to prevent this; but in January, 2001, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals essentially re-legalized all forms of police spying on dissident activity, short of actual disruption of such activity. Another struggle to wage!
Since 9/11, CCDBR has striven to deal with the avalanche of repressive Orwellian laws and executive orders streaming from the Bush administration and its compliant congressional majorities, not to mention judges willing to abandon the traditional understandings of civil liberties. We have hosted a coalition to call for repeal of the Patriot Act in the Illinois legislature: a follow-up to the successful coalition which we spearheaded to win such a resolution in the Chicago City Council. Likewise, we are seeking to draw attention to the threats to freedoms built into the Homeland Security Act, the "No Child Left Behind Act: (which provides a backdoor for Pentagon recruitment in schools), the "Protect America" Act, the Military Commissions Act, and various executive decisions.[2]

Communist front

Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights is one of the Communist Party USA's most successful creations-playing a major role in the near elimination of police spying against radical organizations.

In the early years Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights' personnel were virtually, all proven members or sympathisers of the Communist Party USA. In later years, supporters of the New American Movement, Democratic Socialists of America and Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism were more prominent.

CCDBR founders

1960 Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights CDBR founders were Boris Brail, Milt Cohen, Richard Criley, Ben Green, Prof. Robert Havighurst, Charles Lippitz, Rev.Victor Obenhaus[3].

Personnel in 1965

As at 1965, the following were personnel of the committee:[4]


Board Members

Personnel in 1970

As at 1970, the following were personnel with the Committee:[5]


Advisory Council

Board of Directors

2009 board

The following served on the board as at 2009:[6]



1969 CCDBR "News Bulletin" Names

(Midwest Regional Office, National Committee to Abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC)

Honoring Frank Wilkinson

CCDBR organized a Celebration of the The Dynamic Life of Frank Wilkinson (1914-2006) on Sunday October 29, 2006.[7]

Honoring Committee

Honorary Co-chairpersons





Event with Sister Helen Prejean

The Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights and the Bill of Rights Foundation presented an evening with anti death penalty campaigner Sister Helen Prejean March 15, 2007.


The following is a list of people and organizations that endorsed the event:[8]



  4. Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Letterhead Feb 1965
  5. Full text of "The nationwide drive against law enforcement intelligence operations : hearing before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress, first session page 151