Victor Rabinowitz

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Victor Rabinowitz (1911-2007) helped administer the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation, was a founding member of the National Lawyers Guild and served as its president for three years. He was married to the African-American historian Joanne Grant.

"The New York lawyer was one of the first to go into the segregated south to act for those fighting the segregationist "Jim Crow" system. He represented, among others, his own daughter, indicted following a demonstration. During the Vietnam era, his firm represented draft resisters, the radicalised "Baby Doctor" Benjamin Spock and the Reverend Daniel Berrigan, who had been charged with counselling draft avoidance and other antiwar acts. When, in 1971, Daniel Ellsberg was indicted for the unauthorised release of the Pentagon Papers (the secret government report on the Vietnam war), Rabinowitz's interrogation of the defendant revealed a web of government illegality that left the FBI in shambles and contributed to the passage of the US Freedom of Information Act.

"In 1960 Rabinowitz and his firm had become the legal representatives of revolutionary Cuba, and he later served in the same role for the Allende government in Chile. In what may have been the most important episode of his career, Rabinowitz and his colleagues defended Cuba against US corporations' attempts to seize Cuban property in the US. He argued in landmark supreme court cases that Cuban property was that of a sovereign state and not subject to the authority of the US. The litigation lasted for nearly 25 years...

"Victor and his family also administered the LM Rabinowitz Foundation, which gave away more than $3m to research and scholarship in that decade, arguably making a significant impact on the intellectual climate of the emergent new left. It also helped to buy a building in Atlanta for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and maintain cars and two-way radios for organisers." [1]

"Victor Rabinowitz (1911- 2007) had a long and distinguished career as an attorney specializing in civil liberties cases, international law, labor law and U.S. constitutional law. He was a partner in the firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard and Krinsky and argued cases at many levels in New York City and New York, as well as appearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U. S. Supreme Court. Rabinowitz represented Alger Hiss in his efforts to obtain government documents relevant to re-opening his case. He also represented the governments of Cuba and Chile in U.S. courts, and appeared on behalf on many labor unions and leftist individuals and political organizations. He was an activist in the American Labor Party in the 1940s and was a candidate for office on the ALP ticket. The collection contains correspondence, appointment books, writings (including drafts of his memoir Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer’s Memoir[1996]), political papers, legal records, and FOIA files. It also includes administrative files of the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation." [2]

"In the 1940s and ’50s Victor, along with his longtime law partner, Leonard Boudin, waged a battle against antilabor legislation on behalf of left-wing trade unions. They also represented many hundreds of victims of the McCarthyite “red scare.” Victor went on successfully to confront Jim Crow in aid of student civil rights workers (including his own daughter) and provided aggressive representation for war protesters and draft resisters during the Vietnam era. But Victor always thought his biggest legal contribution to the struggle against imperialism was as lawyer for the Cuban Revolution. In the Sabbatino case, argued by Victor, the Supreme Court held that the “Act of State” doctrine prohibited it from passing on the validity of the nationalization of U.S. owned property in Cuba.

"Victor was one of the founders of the National Lawyers Guild, the association of left lawyers in the United States, and played an important role in maintaining that valuable organization through difficult times.

"We should also note that Victor and his sister, Lucille Perlman, administered a foundation established by their father, a successful inventor and entrepreneur—and also a socialist. In the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s the L. M. Rabinowitz Foundation supported research and writing for numerous articles that appeared in these pages and for many books published by Monthly Review Press. Both MR editor Harry Magdoff and MR director John J. Simon served on the foundation’s advisory committee. Victor was always available to Monthly Review on the occasions when we needed informal legal counsel." [3]

His wife was Joanne Grant.


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  • Marjorie Cohn, "Peace Profile: Victor Rabinowitz", Peace Review, Jul-Sep 2008. Vol. 20, Iss. 3.


  1. Victor Rabinowitz, The Guardian (UK), accessed January 8, 2009.
  2. Guide to the Victor Rabinowitz Papers TAM 123, accessed October 15, 2009.
  3. Notes from Editors, Monthly Review, accessed October 15, 2009.