Arthur Kinoy was a fierce civil rights lawyer and an active Guild member for most of his adult life. He co-founded the Center for Constitutional Rights and litigated numerous groundbreaking cases.
As a young lawyer in the early 1950s, deep into the Red Scare, Kinoy took on progressive work with a commitment few attorneys were brave enough to muster. He served as counsel to the communist-labeled United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, defended witnesses called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and made a last-minute appeal on behalf of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg following their espionage conspiracy conviction.
Kinoy also fought alongside civil rights activists in the South, guiding the establishment of a Mississippi legal office to support the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign. Two years later, he was once again before HUAC representing student anti-war activists when the acting chairman, taking issue with Kinoy's vigorous argument of a point, had him forcibly removed from the hearing by three marshals. A famous photograph of the event arguably turned public opinion against the long-running tribunals once and for all.
In perhaps his most famous case, following the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention, Kinoy joined fellow Guild attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass in representing the Chicago Seven. After a tumultuous trial in which all the defendants and attorneys were cited for contempt, Kinoy and his team ultimately secured freedom for the Seven on appeal.
The 1960s also marked the beginning of Kinoy’s storied tenure as professor to aspiring people’s lawyers at Rutgers University Law School. In his quarter-century there, Kinoy found the time to successfully argue several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including a 1972 opposition to President Richard M. Nixon’s contention that domestic wiretaps of political groups are constitutional, and Dombrowski v. Pfister which allows federal judges to halt enforcement of laws with a “chilling effect” on free speech.
Kinoy died in 2003 at the age of 82.
In the National Lawyers Guild’s Disorientation Handbook he wrote, "The test for a people’s lawyer is not always the technical winning or losing of the formal proceedings. The real test is the impact of the legal activities on the morale and understanding of the people involved in the struggle."