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Ray Procunier deserved to be considered a First Amendment villain. He authorized and defended the oppressive California prison censorship rules in Procunier v. Martinez. But he got a chance to redeem himself, and he rose to the occasion.

The occasion was provided by Robert Schnacke, a federal district judge in San Francisco. Schnacke, like so many judges, was a former prosecutor. While a U.S. Attorney, he had even prosecuted a sedition case in the McCarthy era, charging writer John Powell with having accused the U.S. military of using germ warfare in the Korean War. Schnacke was a crusty, conservative Republican known to be hostile to civil liberties cases. But he had a maverick streak as well, perhaps ...

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