Monday, February 3, 2014

Richmond's Lewis Powell and the "Powell Memo."

Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.  (1907-1998) was an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was a long time Richmond resident and very active in the city's affairs. (see more about him HERE). I thought it was time to make folks aware of what has been called the Powell Memo which has had considerable influence on the state of politics and policy in our nation.
 "In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”

Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.

 -- from the website Reclaim Democracy.
 Read more about the memo HERE.

- Ray


Anonymous said...

What is your purpose for posting this article? Do you have an agenda?

Ray said...

This is a blog about Richmond history and Lewis Powell was a noted Richmonder. I had heard about this memo some years ago and always wanted to write about it - thought my blog entry is pretty short. The real question to ask is was what was Powell's agenda in writing the memo.

- Ray B.

Anonymous said...

There's no question about Powell's memo agenda -- and, no question about the truth of what he writes...very prescient.

However, I think you're being coy about *your* agenda.

Ray B. said...

How's this for coy?

- Ray

Anonymous said...

So, what's your point? I'm sure corporations have done fine by you -- and of course, Bill Moyers.

Since I see that this isn't an objective historical website, I'll no longer visit it. I'll urge others to do the same.