A Crusader’s Reward: Morris Dees to Receive 2012 ABA Medal

Mark Curriden, ABA Journal, August 1, 2012

Four decades ago this month, a young lawyer from Alabama had an idea: Sue two organizations for damages stemming from the conduct and actions of their employees or members.

The organizations were the Republican National Committee and the Committee for the Re-election of the President. The individuals were five “burglars” who had broken into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 1972.

The lawyer was Morris Dees, who at the time was serving as campaign finance director for George S. McGovern, who would become the Democratic candidate running against Richard Nixon in that year’s presidential race. After reading that the men arrested in the Watergate break-in had connections with the RNC and CREEP, Dees contacted McGovern’s campaign manager.

“I called Gary Hart” [a presidential candidate in the 1980s], says Dees, “and I said, ‘Gary, I smell a rat here. I say, let’s sue them.’ ”

The lawsuit eventually settled for a few hundred thousand dollars—a result that displeases Dees even to this day. He thinks the recovery against the RNC and CREEP could have been in the millions.

But Dees soon found other ways to put his unique legal theory to effective use. Starting in 1980 and continuing for the next three decades, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which Dees co-founded in 1971, filed a series of historic and highly successful civil lawsuits seeking to hold various chapters of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations responsible for the wrongdoings of their members. And he’s got the death threats to prove it—at least two dozen by his count.


In one of the most recent cases, the SPLC won a $2.5 million judgment against the Imperial Klans of America and its imperial wizard, Ron Edwards, for the brutal beating of a Latino teenager at a Kentucky county fair in 2006. The Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the verdict in March.


In August, the ABA will present Morris Seligman Dees Jr. with its highest honor, the ABA Medal. The association’s Board of Governors selected him as this year’s recipient in June, and he will receive the medal during the House of Delegates session at the 2012 annual meeting in Chicago. Previous recipients include Leon Jaworski, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and Sandra Day O’Connor, and the Rev. Robert F. Drinan.


At 75, Dees doesn’t sound like he’s ready to slow down. “There’s still so much more to do,” he says. “We are doing a lot of individual cases and we have a major juvenile justice project. The schools to prison pipeline must be addressed. Klan Watch is still doing tremendous work and we have a team going to law enforcement agencies across the country doing 30 to 50 seminars a year on hate crimes.”



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  • razorrare

    Busy little bees they are…read this excellent commentary by Peter Brimelow regarding adl & splc shenanigans regarding Wade Page…must read…


  • The American Bar Association glorifies someone who makes a living from suing people? 

    I’m so, so, so, so, so, so, so shocked…unless I’m not.

    Footnote:  Actually, Dees gets virtually no money from the actual civil judgments levied against the goober groups.  He makes it up in volume…old corny joke I know…but the volume of contributions from far left donors.

    • The__Bobster

      No, they glorify someone who sues the RIGHT people, meaning us.

  • Biff_Maliboo

     Is an award from the ABA anything to be proud of?

  • NYB

    The ABA board of governors is probably no more than a handful of people,  the majority of whom can hold their noses and vote for Morris because they like his chutzpah, his celeb status, and his message.

  • This farcical award tells us all we need to know about American lawyers. Dees appears to be one of the founders of the, “If you can’t beat ’em, or silence ’em, bankrupt ’em!” school of legal chicanery. Being the founder of the SPLC should have been enough in itself to disqualify him from receiving any honors. But then, as I said before, it tells us a lot about the ABA and American lawyers in general. The more screwed up and “politically correct” (but that’s redundant, isn’t it?) our society becomes, the more swag the Legal Beagle Boys rake in.

    • Anonymous

      Yep.  If it were not profitable to extort “white supremacist groups” or guilt trip whites, all these peddlers would find another racket.  Pretty soon, people like these guys will not be able to keep up their anti-white agenda.  There will either be not enough money or people will not be scared of moved at being called racists anymore.  The problem with progressives is they think society progressively becomes more socialistic, when history and human events are cyclical and swing like a pendelum.  Yes, for a while things are in the socialist’s favor, but then they revert back to being in the hands of the regular people who don’t want a socialistic/communistic utopia.  History repeats itself.

      • there really is no new thing under the sun when it comes to human behavior.

         they have this eschatology of social progress, which justifies anything they do, as well as emboldens them to say such things as ‘no social movement has ever failed’ when they campaign for the rights of animals, oblivious to the now-discarded movement to sexualize children and normalize adult-child sexual “relationships”.

        its great to call it an eschatology because it pisses them off to hear their ideas about the end times called that.

      • Same thing is true about the leftists who point with delight to the “youth vote” going to Democrats, as if it shows “the wave of the future;” and to church memberships being disproportionately middle-aged and elderly.

         What they fail to realize, or don’t want to admit, is that as people add a few years and become more mature, they’re more apt to see the idealistic-but-foolish aspects of liberalism for what they are; and realize that this big wide world and everything in it didn’t “just happen.”

    • haroldcrews

      About half of the attorneys in the US are members of the ABA.  I’m not and have never been a member.  Don’t paint with an overly broad brush.

      • anarchyst

        The sad part is that when these lawyers take on cases and win, they get paid by the taxpayers.  This also goes for so-called “environmentalist” lawyers.
        If they ahd to get paid by their “clients, we would see a lot less cases from these “bottom feeders”.

  • Chimp Master Rules

    One group of  anti-white jews pats another group of  anti-white jews on the back.   Yawn.

    Next article . . .

  •  But Mo Dees didn’t do anything to the “Klan.”  Any real strength the Klan had was eviscerated between 1965 and 1970, the years immediately after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because U.S. Attorneys used their newfound power.  Morris Dees didn’t start in on his “Klan” watching business until 1980.  Oh yeah, Mr. Sleaze would  love to have you think that he and he alone ended the Klan, specially if you write checks to the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Most “Kluxers” today are actors.  Federal law enforcement and the Paranoia-Industrual Complex (ADL, SPLC, etc.) have a symbiotic relationship.  The FBI et al. “need” the SPLC to spy on people whom the FBI can’t spy upon, and the FBI rewards the ADL and SPLC by forcing its own assets to run around in funny uniforms so that the SPLC can put scary photos in its slick mags so it can raise money.  In the aftermath to the Nutbar of Milwaukee this past weekend, the media admitted that that relationship exists.  I have known this for a long time because of a Ph.D. thesis that a George Mason University grad student was working on.

    The only people who can do to AIPAC what was “done” to the Klan is the Justice Department.  That will happen on the same day you win the Powerball.

  • RHG

    Where were this idiots lawsuits at when Al Sharpton was inciting his followers at Freddies Fashion Mart that led to one of them committing murder and arson?

  • anarchyst

    The sad part is that when these lawyers take on cases and win, they get paid by the taxpayers. This also goes for so-called “environmentalist” lawyers.If they had to get paid by their “clients (instead of us taxpayers), we would see a lot fewer cases from these “bottom feeders”.

    • The__Bobster

      That’s why I like the UK’s “loser pays” system – fewer frivolous lawsuits.

  • anarchyst

    You can bet that the $PLC gives false information on so-called “white supremacist” groups to raise money for their supposed “anti-racism” projects.
    TRUE “white supremacist” groups have to be extremely careful and “vet” prospective supporters.  ANY involvement with “law enforcement” has to be avoided at all cost.
    It is no secret that law enforcement (I use that term loosely) agencies routinely “set up” white-rights individuals and organizations for the express purpose of  “entrapment”. 
    A prime example is that of the Hutaree in Michigan.  They were “set up” by law enforcement” for the express purpose of showing how “dangerous”  white supremacists can be.  By that line of reasoning, ANY WHITE PERSON that expresses dissatisfaction with the way things are going in this country could be brought up on charges.
    I would like to get a hold of  $PLC, ADL, ACLU and CAIR member and donor lists just to see what kind of people are “brainwashed” by these organizations.
    “Law enforcement” does itself a disservice by associating themselves with these organizations.

    • Jim L.

      It is not unlikely that many able and straight-shooter agents in the FBI and maybe(?) in
      ATF, realize the mix of fact, speculation, fabrication,  selective omission of data, etc etc.
      that make up much of the Dees “intelligence project” to police departments and sheriff offices.
      However, Dees seems solidly wired in at the upper levels of the national administration of these federal agencies.   His mish-mash of information probably causes a lot of headaches
      to feet-on-the-ground agents.  If the feds focused an investigative effort at Dees and his
      organization, he could start assisting his own defense against numerous counts of violation of
      laws.  I suspect it will happen within three to five years.  

  • anarchyst

    So Morris (sleaze) Seligman Dees is worried about the number of  black “boys” being admitted (and receiving “scholarships” for their abherrant behavior) to the “University of Corrections”.
    Oh well . . .

  • anarchyst

    Guess which people started and run the ADL, ACLU, $PLC and CAIR . . . those of the “tribe” . . .

  • Archimedes_777


    Thank you for the article.   Shame on the ABA!!  Morris Dees has violated more rules of Professional Conduct (RBC) than many others.  He should have been disbarred long ago.   It is a shame that the ABA is rewarding his brazen violations of the RPC.  Here is why.

    SPLC has a good scam going–any group that is patriotic and cares about this country is labeled a hate group.

    But what most Americans do not understand that the SPLC does not have any special authority or right to do that, more than any other guy on the street.

    If a bum on the street told you the earth is flat, does that make the earth flat?  Similarly, if a nutcase like Dees tells the left wing media that so-and-so is a hate group, it does NOT make it a fact.  It just shows Morris Dees is a fraudster–that’s all.

    The gullible American public views SPLC’s senseless rantings as if it were a fact–they are not!!  More hate spews out of

    SPLC’s scam is mainly to make money.  The lies of this hate group is to advance this fraud by bilking the donors and therefore can be viewed as mail fraud, wire fraud and racketeering. 

    People should file complaints with the state bars of the various states against Morris Dees and have him disbarred, since I think, a lot of his dirty tricks and scams appear to violate the rules of professional conduct.  For example, many state bars prohibit false statements to 3rd parties or violations of the law.  Calling innocent groups as hate groups and making those statements to 3rd parties is often unethical unprofessional conduct warranting disbarment.  Defaming other parties is a violation of the law (defamation) and is often unprofessional conduct warranting disciplinary action.

    Also, promoting illegal aliens (who are by definition, criminals), collecting money from his donors by misrepresenting facts, are  violations of the rules of professional conduct,  warranting disciplinary action.

    There are other allegations such as sexual misconduct reported in his divorce and subornation of perjury reported about suggest he may be mentally ill (anti-social personality or sociopathic personality has been heard).  The list of unethical and unprofessional conduct by Dees appears to be a pattern of ethical violations, includes moral turpitude, as he often behaves like an unprofessional unethical crooked lawyer.   It is a failure of the Alabama bar that they have not yet disbarred one of their  most crooked lawyers yet.  It is a failure of the profession that other lawyers (who have a legal duty to report him) have engaged in this conspiracy of silence.

    People who have contributed to him, in response to the fraud in his mailers, will have additional standing to sue him for fraud and racketeering and have him disbarred.   They could also file criminal complaints against him with the Attorney general to have criminal prosecuted for mail and wire fraud.

    If people filed numerous complaints against Morris Dees, not only in his home state, but in every state he has ever appeared pro hac vice, he could be disbarred.  This is what it will take.

  • The__Bobster

    It appears to be about 50% at the present time.

  • The__Bobster


    Perhaps this casts some light on the $PLC’s amazing “Money Mountain”—as I called it last year. This continues to grow. Total assets for the year ended October 31st 2010 rose 13.25% to $250.77 million—Net Assets (e.g. after deducting all payables) rose 14.39% to $228.7 Million.

    The $PLC has never been wealthier.

    What the $PLC portentously calls its “Endowment Fund” also reached a record, up $27.3 Million to $216.2 million.

    This terminology, of course, is blatantly deceptive. As I noted last year, with most charities

     …the term “Endowment Fund” would mean a pool of funds to which access is restricted, perhaps to income or a small percentage of assets.

    But this is not the case with the $PLC. Only a tiny proportion of its assets are restricted. The nomenclature is just camouflage. It just means the $PLC has no intention of spending the money.

  • Hirene

    I wonder how many businesses fled the U.S. to avoid SPLC’s blackmail?  True patiots, those ABA guys.