Arthur Terminiello

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Terminiello v. City of Chicago
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued February 1, 1949
Decided May 16, 1949
Full case name Terminiello v. City of Chicago
Citations 337 U.S. 1 (more)
69 S. Ct. 894; 93 L. Ed. 1131; 1949 U.S. LEXIS 2400
Prior history Conviction affirmed by Illinois Court of Appeals, 332 Ill. App. 17; affirmed by Supreme Court of Illinois, 400 Ill. 23; certiorari granted, 335 U.S. 890
Subsequent history Rehearing denied, 337 U.S. 934
Chicago's "breach of peace" ordinance was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson Associate Justices Hugo Black · Stanley F. Reed Felix Frankfurter · William O. Douglas Frank Murphy · Robert H. Jackson

Wiley B. Rutledge · Harold H. Burton
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Douglas, joined by Reed, Murphy, Rutledge, Black
Dissent Vinson
Dissent Frankfurter, joined by Jackson, Burton
Dissent Jackson, joined by Burton
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Amends. I & XIV

Arthur William Terminiello (born April 11, 1906, died 1962 in Escambia, Florida) was a Catholic priest who was once arrested in Chicago while giving a speech against Jewish Communism. On May 16, 1949 his conviction was later overturned by the US Supreme Court in the landmark free speech ruling Terminiello v. Chicago (1949).[1] Terminiello was known as the "Father Coughlin of the South."[2]


Early life

Arthur Terminiello was born in Suffolk, Massachusetts in 1906. His father was Antonio Terminiello. Arthur Terminiello entered St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland and was ordained as a priest in 1933. He was assigned to work with poor tenant farmers in the South and established a farming cooperative known as St. Teresa’s Village near Bolling, Alabama.[3]

His sense of social activism led him in 1939 to publish a magazine called Rural Justice in Troy, Alabama which paralleled Father Coughlin’s publication Social Justice. [4] Later he published two other newspapers, Saint Teresa's Village News (1940-1941) and The Crusader (1946) which became the publication of his organization the Union of Christian Crusaders.[5] In 1945 his organization claimed 40,000 members.[6] He also had a radio and televison program called The Pastor's Fireside. Father Terminiello obtained a law degree from James Law School in Montgomery but failed to pass the state bar exam.[7]

Because of his anti-Semitic activity the Mobile Diocese forced him to resign as a priest.

After V-J Day Father Terminiello obtained 20,000 signatures on a petition to urge the United States Senate to investigate the events leading to the Pearl Harbor attack.[8] Isolationists in America had long suspected the Washington political establishment welcomed or had a hand in the “surprise” Japanese attack.

Chicago riot and arrests

Father Terminiello and Gerald L. K. Smith (an opponent of Jewish supremacism) were on a two-month tour of the country speaking at various Christian nationalist groups which included the cities of Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, and Buffalo.[9] On February 7, 1946, they were scheduled to address the Christian Veterans of America,[10] one of Smith’s organizations, in an auditorium in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Albany Park, a suburb of Chicago.[11] The auditorium was filled to capacity with over eight hundred persons in attendance.

Father Terminiello was the National Chaplin of the Christian Veterans of America.[12]

They were met by a group of angry Jews from the American Jewish Committee and the American Communist Party who formed a picket line blocking entry into the auditorium.[13] A few years earlier the Jews and communists threatened a “reign of terror” if Smith or any of his associates spoke in the Chicago area.[14]

The mob was estimated to be between two to five hundred people. When Terminiello and Smith arrived the police formed a wedge so they and others could enter into the auditorium. Some of the guests had their clothes torn by the rioters as they entered the building.

The mob could not hear the speeches or know what was occurring inside the auditorium, nevertheless the rioters began to throw bricks and ice picks thru the windows and part-open doors. Twenty-eight windows were broken and forty thugs outside rushed the police, knocking them down. Nineteen rioters were arrested outside the hall.[15]

After the meeting ended Father Terminiello and two others were arrested under a city ordinance which said it was illegal to create a "diversion tending to a breach of the peace." The instigator of the arrests was Ira J. Latimer, the head of a Communist front group ironically called the Chicago Civil Liberties Committee.[16] Latimer and a judge--who just happened to be at the meeting because he was "curious"--went to a local police station later that evening, found another judge, and at 11:30 p.m. obtained warrants for the arrest of Terminiello, Gerald L. K. Smith and Frederick Kister who sponsored the meeting.[17] Smith at trial was found in contempt of court and sentenced to 60 days in jail.[18]

Conviction and appeals

Father Terminiello was later convicted on the charges and fined $100. Two Illinois courts upheld the conviction; however, it was later reversed on May 16, 1949 in a landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court[19] becoming one of the most important free speech cases in American legal history.[20]

Father Terminiello’s lawyer representing his case before the US Supreme Court was Albert W. Dilling who defended his former wife Elizabeth Dilling in the Great Sedition Trial of 1944.[21]

Father Terminiello had retired from anti-Semitic activity in 1947 and was reinstated by his bishop in May 1949.

Excerpts from the speech

Below are excerpts of Father Terminiello's speech titled Christ or Chaos--Christian Nationalism or World Communism--Which? recorded by a stenographer which later appeared in the Supreme Court opinion.

Father Terminiello:

"Now, I am going to whisper my greetings to you, Fellow Christians. I will interpret it. I said, 'Fellow Christians', and I suppose there are some of the scum got in by mistake, so I want to tell a story about the scum: ". . . And nothing I could say tonight could begin to express the contempt I have for the slimy scum that got in by mistake.

". . . The subject I want to talk to you tonight about is the attempt that is going on right outside this hall tonight, the attempt that is going on to destroy America by revolution. . . .

"My friends, it is no longer true that it can't happen here. It is happening here, and it only depends upon you, good people, who are here tonight, depends upon all of us together, as Mr. Smith said. The tide is changing, and if you and I turn and run from that tide, we will all be drowned in this tidal wave of Communism which is going over the world.

". . . I am not going to talk to you about the menace of Communism, which is already accomplished, in Russia, where from eight to fifteen million people were murdered in cold blood by their own countrymen, and millions more through Eastern Europe at the close of the war are being murdered by these murderous Russians, hurt, being raped and sent into slavery. That is what they want for you, that howling mob outside.

"I know I was told one time that my winter quarters were ready for me in Siberia. I was told that. Now, I am talking about the fifty-seven varieties that we have in America, and we have fifty-seven varieties of pinks and reds and pastel shades in this country; and all of it can be traced back to the [18] twelve years we spent under the New Deal, because that was the build-up for what is going on in the world today.

. . . .

"Now, Russia promised us we would ga [sic] back to the official newspaper of Russia. Primarily, it was back about 1929. They quoted the words of George E. Dimitroff, who at that time was the Executive Secretary of the Communist International. I only quote you this one passage. I could quote thousands of paragraphs for you. Let me quote you: 'The worldwide nature of our program is not mere talk, but an all embracing blood-soaked reality.' That is what they want for us, a blood-soaked reality but it was promised to us by the crystal gazers in Washington; and you know what I mean by the 'crystal gazers', I presume.

"First of all, we had Queen Eleanor. Mr. Smith said, 'Queen Eleanor is now one of the world's communists. She is one who said this--imagine, coming from the spouse of the former President of the United States for twelve long years--this is what she said: 'The war is but a step in the revolution. The war is but one step in the revolution, and we know who started the war.'

"Then we have Henry Adolph Wallace, the sixty million job magician. You know we only need fifty-four million jobs in America and everybody would be working. He wants sixty million jobs, because some of the bureaucrats want two jobs apiece. Here he is, what he says about revolution: 'We are in for a profound revolution. Those of us who realize the inevitableness of the revolution, and are anxious that it be gradual and bloodless instead of somewhat bloody. Of course, if necessary, we will have it more bloody.'

"Now, my friends, they are planning another ruse; and if it ever happens to this cou-try [sic], God help America. They are going to try to put into Mr. Edgar Hoover's position a man by the name of George Swarzwald. I think even those who were uneducated on so-called sedition charges, that the majority of the individuals in this department, that Christ-like men and women who realize today what is going on in this country, men who are in this audience today, who want to know the names of those people, before they are outside, they want to know the names if any. Did you hear any tonight that you recognize? Most of them probably are imported. They are imported from Russia, certainly. If you know the names, please send them to me immediately. . . .

". . . Didn't you ever read the Morgenthau plan for the starvation of little babies and pregnant women in Germany? Whatever could a child that is born have to do with Hitler or anyone else at the beginning of the war? Why should every child in Germany today not live to be more than two or three months of age? Because Morgenthau wants it that way, and so did F. D. R. . . . You will know who is behind it when I tell you the story of a doctor in Akron, Ohio. He boasted to a friend of mine within the last few days, while he was in the service of this country as a doctor, he and others of his kind made it a practice--now, this was not only one man--made it a practice to amputate the limbs of every German they came in contact with whenever [20] they could get away with it; so, that they could never carry a gun. Imagine men of that caliber, sworn to serve this beautiful country of ours, why should we tolerate them?

My friends, this moment someone reminded me of the plan to sterilize them. The nurses, they tell me are going to inject diseases in them, syphilis and other diseases in every one that came there all of one race, all non-Christians. . . .

"Now, we are going to get the threats of the people of Argentine, the people of Spain. We have now declared, according to our officials, to have declared Franco to have taken the place of Hitler. Franco was the savior of what was left of Europe.

"Now, let me say, I am going to talk about--I almost said, about the Jews. Of course, I would not want to say that. However, I am going to talk about some Jews. I hope that--I am a Christian minister. We must take a Christian attitude. I don't want you to go from this hall with hatred in your heart for any person, for no person. . . .

"Now, this danger which we face--let us call them Zionist Jews if you will, let's call them atheistic, communistic Jewish or Zionist Jews, then let us not fear to condemn them. You remember the Apostles when they went into the upper room after the death of the Master, they went in there, after locking the doors; they closed the windows. (At this time there was a very loud noise as if something was being thrown into the building.)

"Don't be disturbed. That happened, by the way, while Mr. Gerald Smith was saying 'Our Father who art in heaven;' (just then a rock went through the window.) Do you wonder they were persecuted in other countries in the world? . . .

"You know I have always made a study of the psychology, sociology of mob reaction. It is exemplified out there. Remember there has to be a leader to that mob. He is not out there. He is probably across the street, looking out the window. There must be certain things, money, other things, in order to have successful mob action; there must be rhythm. There must be some to beat a cadence. Those mobs are chanting; that is the caveman's chant. They were trained to do it. They were trained this afternoon. They are being led; there will be violence.

"That is why I say to you, men, don't you do it. Walk out of here dignified. The police will protect you. Put the women on the inside, where there will be no hurt to them. Just walk; don't stop and argue. . . . They want to picket our meetings. They don't want us to picket their meetings. It is the same kind of tolerance, if we said there was a bedbug in bed, 'We don't care for you,' or if we looked under the bed and found a snake and said, 'I am going to be tolerant and leave the snake there.' We will not be tolerant of that mob out there. We are not going to be tolerant any longer.

"We are strong enough. We are not going to be tolerant of their smears any longer. We are going to stand up and dare them to smear us. . . .

"So, my friends, since we spent much time tonight trying to quiet the howling mob, I am going to bring my thoughts to a conclusion, and the conclusion is this. We must all be like the Apostles before the coming of the Holy Ghost. We must not lock ourselves in an upper room for fear of the Jews. I speak of the Communistic Zionistic Jew, and those are not American Jews. We don't want them here; we want them to go back where they came from.[22]


  • Saint Teresa's Village News (1940-1941)
  • The Crusader (1946)


  • The Illuminati and the Catholic Church 19 pages
  • The Double Deal Steps to the Cross of War
  • The Cross of War: Is it due to stupidity or cupidity . (A sermon preached at the Novena in honor of Our Lady of Victory at the Church of the Visitation, Huntsville, Alabama, and broadcast over the North Alabama network on Oct. 22, 1944)
  • Manual for Convert Instructions (1955, 1958) 112 pages
  • 40 questions most frequently asked about the Catholic Church by non-Catholics (1956)
  • This Is Our Catholic Faith: A Manual for Those Interested in the Catholic Faith (1956, 1968) 140 pages


  • Our Victory (1944)


All of this is to be accomplished in the name of 'brotherhood' and 'democracy.' Then the work of the Judeo-Masonic British-Israel will be complete. This word plot includes the financing and building of the capital of the World Empire in the Jewish Homeland and the formenting of revolutions in the remaining Christian countries of the world—Spain, South America and Ireland.


  1. Terminiello v. Chicago
  2. A. W. Terminiello Papers, University of Notre Dame Archives
  3. The Plotters, p. 120, by John Roy Carlson, (1946)
  4. The Plotters, p. 120, by John Roy Carlson, (1946)
  5. Fascist Antisemitism and Jewish-Italian Relations in the United States
  6. The Plotters, p. 123, by John Roy Carlson, (1946)
  7. Encyclopedia of Right-Wing Extremism in Modern American History, By Stephen E. Atkins, page 127
  8. The Plotters, p. 121, by John Roy Carlson, (1946)
  9. This Day, February 7, In Jewish History
  10. Forgotten hero
  11. A Brief History of the ACLU of Illinois
  12. The Plotters, p. 115, by John Roy Carlson, (1946)
  13. "The Dilemma to a Free People": Justice Robert Jackson, Walter Bagehot, and the Creation of a Conservative Jurisprudence
  14. GLK Smith FBI file
  15. "The Dilemma to a Free People": Justice Robert Jackson, Walter Bagehot, and the Creation of a Conservative Jurisprudence
  16. "The Dilemma to a Free People": Justice Robert Jackson, Walter Bagehot, and the Creation of a Conservative Jurisprudence
  17. "The Dilemma to a Free People": Justice Robert Jackson, Walter Bagehot, and the Creation of a Conservative Jurisprudence
  18. The Plotters, p. 127, by John Roy Carlson, (1946)
  19. THE JUDICIARY: The Well & the Stars
  20. A Brief History of the ACLU of Illinois
  21. Terminiello v. Chicago
  22. Terminiello v. Chicago

See also

External links

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