This is the third and concluding episode on the Garner vs. Louisiana case, and the fourth of 13 episodes of the Law and Society series, produced by Florence Mischel from an extensive study conducted in the summer of 1963 at the Conference of law, jurisprudence, and the Bill of Rights, held at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, California. This episode, like the others in the Garner analysis, focuses on the legalities of nonviolent demonstrations by Blacks fighting segregation. This meeting took place at the end of the summer, two months after the first meeting. First, a presentation is given by Harry Kalven, Jr., of the University of Chicago Law School, whereupon he attempts to summarize the two-months long conference, and, drawing upon earlier discussions of race law, free speech, and of legal reasoning, he set before the staff the following exercise: is it possible, using the lessons of the Garner case as a model, to arrive at a theory of free speech which would meet the right to demonstrate and yet protect the rights of private property. Participating in the discussion following Kalven’s presentation are Robert M. Hutchins, Chaim Perelman, professor of logic and ethics at the University of Brussels, Belgium, Joseph Tussman, professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley, Zelman Cowen, Dean of the University of Melbourne Law School in Australia, Edwin Dunaway, attorney and former Supreme Court justice of the state of Arkansas, and William Gorman, Richard Linkman, Harry Ashmore, Harvey Wheeler, and W. H. Ferry.
While the focus of the discussion often centered on the Garner vs. Louisiana ruling, the center was concerned to raise broader questions, such as what are the resources of a democratic legal system for dealing with crisis issues, like the race question. What strength can the law as a democratic institution bring to the task? By what inherent weaknesses is it limited?