Arresting And Disarming The American Revolution

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Black Panthers Guns Up

The practices of Malcolm X help lay the philosophical groundwork for the Black Panther Party. Indeed, Malcolm X held an “any means necessary” approach to the fight for equality, a tenet he famously underscored in his “it’s either the ballot or the bullet” 1964 speech on African-American voting rights.

Black Panthers Support Huey P. Newton at the Alameda Courthouse – Bay Area Television Archive (

The Black Panther Party and the Advent of Modern Gun Rights – Price of Safety (

Reagan and Meese


It was three decades ago, when then-Attorney General Ed Meese initiated an important spirited national debate about the proper application of our most important governing document—the U.S. Constitution. His goal was to persuade judges, even Supreme Court justices, to agree they should respect the text of the Constitution and the intent of the Founders who wrote it. 

The arrests of Congressman in front of the Supreme Court – will go down in infamy! The American Revolution that was intercepted, arrested, and disarmed by the Disciples of Ed Meese, has…


When Ed Meese was working for Coakley in the Alameda District Attorney’s Office he helped arrest 773 Demonstrators who were photographed. Meese had a hand in the arrest of Mario Savio – and demonstrators at People’s Park. He wanted to destroy the lives and futures of those who did much less than the January 6th. Rioters at our Capitol. Ed Meese signed a letter that said they did nothing wrong. They did something wrong when they came to believe Trump and his gang were telling the truth, that the Democrats stole the election.

Conservative Leaders: Remove Cheney and Kinzinger from House Republican Conference | Conservative Action Project

Ed Meese had worked in law enforcement most of his life. He saw the man carrying the Confederate flag in our Capitol and Jacob rifling through papers belonging to the Speaker of the House. He should be called to testify! Why hasn’t Meese VOLENTEERED to give his expert opinion? Would he conclude there was a Incitement To Riot?

Mob Violence Must Not Be Tolerated. Hold Accountable and Punish the Wrongdoers. | The Heritage Foundation

Did Ed do anything to DISARM the militias that President Trump flirted with – and Ginni Thomas? No. But Ed helped President Reagan disarm the Black Panthers and MAKE LAWS RETRICTING GUN USE. This destroys the base for all Second Amendment Devotees.

Meese might have been trained by the CIA while in the Army Reserves. He was involved in the Iran-Contra Scandal. It looks to me the Right-wing Militias were funded and trained by Meesites to destroy America’s True Patriots and Revolutionaries. This is the formula to overthrow other nations, and thwart democratic movements that oppose the wealthy capitalists. That Christianity and Jessus is captured and used to this end – is par for the course.

Ed Meese and Clarence Thomas met at the Heritage Foundation that subscribes to the conservative approach to the Constitution that looks like a Counter-Revolution blueprint designed to give all the power and wealth to Three Percent of U.S. Citizens. The Seventeen have broken the yoke and bond of Ed Meese. Do they know it?

Two day ago I read about Ed’s love for the Oakland Police and how he rode around with them. I was born in Oakland and went to Oakland High where Ed went. We have very similar German backgrounds.

Never forget…..The Democrats did nothing! The demonstrators and rioters that trespassed inside our Nation’s Capitol while OUR VOTES WERE COUNTED – demonstrated FOR NOTHING! They bought the Big Lie that Ed Meese and Clarence Thomas – DID NOTHING ABOUT!

Protecting Voter’s Rights – was big with the Black Panthers, and was one of the reasons they appeared armed at the Capitol in Sacramento. They promoted and protected Second Amendment Rights.

John Presco

“But it wasn’t mere fear that drew Meese toward the war-games aspect of his work. Those who knew him in his early days in California law enforcement and politics say he has always exhibited an unbridled enthusiasm for the police–even more than for the military. One of his hobbies was collecting small model squad cars and statuettes of pigs, the protesters’ epithet of choice for the police in the ‘60s. The way some describe it, Ed Meese was an action junkie. A standing joke in the courthouse was that Meese would drop anything he was doing and go out to answer a police call coming in over his desktop police radio.

But Deputy Atty. Gen. Jensen says Meese’s celebrated rides with the cops were nothing out of the ordinary. “It was a regular practice for us to ride with them on patrol. D.A.s in Alameda were close to the police,” he says. In Jensen’s opinion, it served an important purpose. “D.A.s could help educate the police about exclusionary law, for example. There was good feedback from police to help our job.”

Tom Houchins, the bald-headed, cowboy-style vice president of a San Francisco security firm, enjoys telling war stories about the days when he led the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department–known as the Blue Meanies because of their blue jump suits–to meet the ragtag Berkeley demonstrators over the bit of UC-owned turf known as People’s Park. Houchins especially remembers the time when Ed Meese would not be dissuaded from coming along with Houchins and his men in the final mop-up to clear the illegal occupiers of Moses Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

In 1966, when Gov. Ronald Reagan chose Meese to be his secretary of clemency and extradition (the title and duties were soon changed to legal affairs secretary), social protest had grown more militant and widespread. During the bloody uprising at San Francisco State College in 1969, Meese stepped into the fray and took control of the college from its president, S.I. Hayakawa. And he was working for Reagan in Sacramento in 1967 when the Black Panthers strutted into the Assembly, outfitted with weapons and bandoleers, to protest a bill restricting the carrying of weapons. To Ed Meese, this was a state of siege.

At least 17 Democratic lawmakers arrested outside Supreme Court during abortion rights protests

Christopher Wilson – 4h ago

A number of Democratic representatives — including members of “the Squad” and House leadership — were arrested outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon for protesting the recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Katherine Clark, D-Mass., were among those arrested for blocking traffic. Clark serves as the assistant speaker, the No. 4 position in Democratic leadership.

“The extremist Republican Party is determined to take us back in time and take away our rights. I refuse to stand on the sidelines as their rampage continues,” Clark said in a statement following her arrest. “I am furious and heartbroken, and I will proudly fight for our right to abortion and all of our Constitutional rights. They can arrest me, but we won’t allow them to arrest freedom.”

The Capitol Police said they had arrested 35 people, including 17 members of Congress, for “Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding.” Law enforcement officials said they had “already given our standard three warnings. Some of the demonstrators are refusing to get out of the street, so we are starting to make arrests.”

Related video: House Democrats arrested in abortion protest at Supreme Court

While the Democratically controlled House passed legislation last week that would protect the right to an abortion, it is set to die in the Senate. The June 24 decision by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has resulted in millions of Americans losing their access to abortion and delaying lifesaving pregnancy care for other women.

The press secretary for Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., another member of the Squad, tweeted a video of the second-term congresswoman being escorted away by police, adding that she was “arrested protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court for abortion rights.” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., another member, tweeted a video of the arrests.

Reps. Barbara Lee of California, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Cori Bush of Missouri, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Jackie Speier of California, Carolyn Maloney of New York, Veronica Escobar of Texas, Sara Jacobs of California, Alma Adams of North Carolina, Bonnie Watson of New Jersey, Nydia Velazquez of New York, Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania and Andy Levin of Michigan were among the other legislators arrested.

“One has a moral responsibility to push back against unjust laws,” Lee commented on her official Twitter account. “Today, I am standing up for reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy in solidarity with the millions who have had their rights stripped away by inhumane policies.”

“I introduced legislation yesterday and today to protect reproductive freedom,” wrote Bush on Twitter. “Today my colleagues and I put our bodies on the line — because we will leave no stone unturned in our fight for justice. Bans off our bodies.”

Last month, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., was arrested outside the Supreme Court for protesting. In July 2021, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was arrested at the Hart Senate Office Building for protesting in favor of voting rights legislation.

Confirmation of Edwin Meese III: Hearings Before the Committee on the … – United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary – Google Books

I never heard him incite to violence or speak meanly of the opposition — not even of Alameda District Assistant Attorney Edwin Meese III, who tried the case against us and was catapulted by that success to Sacramento and then to the White House with Ronald Reagan. Mario would take off his shoes before climbing on the trapped police car.

For the rest of us, the spear carriers in the revolutionary opera, there was a terrific emotional rush from becoming engaged in direct action after a life on the sidelines.

For me, it happened this way. I passed a rally at which Joan Baez was ushering students into Sproul Hall with standard Civil Rights songs. A friend asked if I was coming in. I begged off because of a paper deadline in Victorian literature.

He gave me that funny look that you give to people you’ve just caught in a lame alibi and said, “You always let other people fight your battles for you?”

I went home for books and a sandwich and went into Sproul Hall, thinking to meet Joan Baez, who by then had slipped out the back. I found a place on the third floor, which had been designated a study hall, and went to work on my paper along with hundreds of others for whom the revolution was a detour on the way to the library.

Ed Meese Arrested Mario Savio

Posted on January 16, 2013 by Royal Rosamond Press


Ed Meese got permission to arrest UC students who took part in the FREE SPEECH movement. Reagan gave this Boy Scout – who went to Oakland High School – a cop job for doing his duty to crush a constitutional Right. Today, Meese said our President may be up for Impeachment – before he heard what Obama’s gun control measures are. This is another FRAUD who is not a Patriot.

Jon Presco

At midnight, Alameda County deputy district attorney Edwin Meese III telephoned Governor Edmund Brown, Sr, asking for authority to proceed with a mass arrest. Shortly after 2 am on December 4, police cordoned off the building, and at 3:30 am began arresting close to 800 students. Most of the arrestees were bussed to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, about 25 miles away. They were released on their own recognizance after a few hours behind bars. About a month later, the university brought charges against the students who organized the sit-in, resulting in an even larger student protest that all but shut down the university.

Kay Coakly and the Cops

Posted on April 28, 2017 by Royal Rosamond Press

Whenever Kay Coakley needed to go to the store, she called her father and he sent a squad car. Kay was the old crone up the street who had a bad car accident when she was young. Her father was the District Attorney. We were impressed.

Frank Coakley Convicts Oakland 7

Posted on January 1, 2012by Royal Rosamond Press

The District Attorney of Alameda and Oakland brought charges against anti-war demonstrators, and went after Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement – as well as the Black Panther!In 1967 while taking a bus from L.A. to Oakland I was detained for being a professional Demonstarer and held in a cop room inside the greyhound Station. I was aksed if I was going to the demonstration in Oakland. I told the plain-clothes officer I knew nothing about a demonstration, I live there. This cop took out his truncheon and was going to work me over, when his superior walked in and told him to “Knock it off!”

Coakley was close with Ed Meese and Erl Warren, thus this appears to be a conspiracy headed by the U.S. Government. It is my intent to put all radical and liberal agendas under the umbrella of organized religion due to the holy Jihad being directed from Israel at our Freedoms – and backed by Republican Senators and Congressman who are guilty of Treason!

Call for an investigation of Israeli agents who call for Americans to go to war, whle at the same time they dmeonize the Peace and Freedom Movement. If these religious zealots had been watching the Bankers of the World, then millions of people would not have lost trillions of dollars. What damage to America did those who want Peace and Freedom of Speech, do? Bras were burned. How immodest! A trillion dollars went up in smoke! How obscene!

Jon the Nazarite

Meese Is Newest Arrival

By Mary Thornton

January 26, 1984

When White House counselor Edwin Meese III moves to the Justice Department to become attorney general, he will not be surrounded by strangers.

He will join a network–nicknamed the “Alameda County Mafia”–made up of people who were once involved in law enforcement in Alameda County, Calif.

From 1959 until 1967, Meese was a deputy district attorney in Alameda County. He left that job to become legal affairs secretary to Ronald Reagan when he assumed the governor’s seat.

One old friend now at Justice is D. Lowell Jensen, who worked with Meese as a deputy district attorney and went on to become district attorney of Alameda County.

Meese recommended that Jensen be appointed assistant attorney general in charge of the Criminal Division when Reagan became president. Jensen was promoted last year to associate attorney general, the number three job in the department, when Rudolph W. Giuliani resigned.

Justice Department sources said they expect that Jensen, who is well-respected around the department, will fill in–at least temporarily–for Deputy Attorney General Edward C. Schmults, who is leaving in two weeks to become general counsel for GTE Corp.

The sources said Jensen will assume Schmults’ duties on an acting basis to give Meese time to choose his own deputy, but they added that Jensen is probably a candidate for that job if he wants it. William French Smith has said he will remain as attorney general until Meese is confirmed by the Senate.

Alan C. Nelson, commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a branch of the department, was also a deputy district attorney in Alameda County from 1964 until 1969. Nelson also left that office to join the staff of Gov. Reagan, then served in the California Department of Human Resources.

Another Alameda graduate is Lois H. Herrington, the director of the Office of Justice Assistance, Research and Statistics. Herrington, also a former deputy district attorney in Alameda, did not work there at the same time Meese did, but she said she knows him and thinks highly of him.

Herrington, who served as chairman of the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, said Meese was one of the “prime movers” behind that commission, which recommended a number of changes in the law to assist the victims of crime.

Roger Olson was a deputy district attorney in Alameda County from 1969 to 1972, and met Meese there in 1967, when he was a law clerk. When the Reagan administration took office in 1981 he left his private law practice here to become a deputy to Jensen in the Criminal Division.

Olson, who is now deputy assistant attorney general in the Tax Division, says that most former Alameda County prosecutors look back with some pride on their years in the office where the late Earl Warren, chief justice of the United States, also once served as district attorney.

The office, which serves the cities of Oakland and Berkeley, has dealt with a wide array of cases over the years–ranging from student demonstrations and the murder trial of Black Panther Huey Newton to crimes involving the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang.

“It’s a great prosecuting office. To now be part of a team that seems to be getting recognition is doubly good,” Olson said.

William R. McGuiness, now a deputy to Jensen, and Marty Jenkins, a lawyer in the Civil Rights Division, also worked as deputy district attorneys in Alameda County, and James K. Stewart, director of the National Institute of Justice, served as deputy chief of police in Oakland.

Black Panther Party Gallery and Museum

Posted on September 2, 2020 by Royal Rosamond Press

This morning I discovered Frank Coakley prosecuted the Black Mutineers at Port Chicago when he was Judge Advocate Commander for the Navy. He would later prosecute Black Panthers – and Mario Savio! I and my family were very good friends with his daughter, Kay Coakley. Kay wanted to adopt my youngest sister. This goes with my discovery that Richard Rosenberg was a founder of Naval societies and interests. I am going to contact him about The Marin Shipmates. I would like him and the Marin-Buck Foundation to fund this museum and gallery.

I discovered this museum after posting.

The radical dynamics created back in the seventies is back for an encore, and is having a great affect on our American society and culture – and thus the World’s. I am sure more black radical art is being rendered as I type. I would like to see a college dedicated to this art. The Oakland Museum had a show on Black Power. This history can no longer be marginalized. It can be shown that Coakley launched a crusade against black people. The paranoia the Newton’s experienced was very deserved.

Kamala Harris was a District Attorney of Oakland before she went to San Francisco. If she is elected Vice President, then there will be a great interest n Oakland Culture and political history. Trump is going – The Law and Order approach to being elected. Black Lives Matter, and rioting in several cities, may bring about the defeat of Biden and Harris. This too will deserve a study.  Art and Literature has always played a huge role in how we record history. The BPMG will gather all pertinent images so they can be viewed on-line, or at the BP Gallery that will have a home in Marin County.

I am investigating who owns the Black Panther trademark. Any information will be appreciated. It looks like Fredricka Newton does.

Whenever Kay Coakley needed to go to the store, she called her father and he sent a squad car. Kay was the old crone up the street who had a bad car accident when she was young. Her father was the District Attorney. We were impressed.

John Presco

President: Royal Rosamond Press

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office was formed in 1853 with the appointment of its first District Attorney, William H. Combs. For many years, most of Alameda County’s District Attorneys came to the position from private practice and, after relatively short periods in the office, became judges or returned to private practice.

In the modern era, the best-known DA was Earl Warren who joined the office in 1920 as a deputy district attorney and was appointed DA in 1925. In 1939, he was elected Attorney General of California, and in 1946 he was elected Governor. Warren served as governor until 1953 when President Dwight Eisenhower appointed him Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. As Chief Justice, Earl Warren is probably best remembered as the author of the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona.

Warren’s successor as DA was his Chief Assistant, Ralph E. Hoyt. Hoyt was DA until 1947 when he was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor Warren. Hoyt was succeeded as DA by J. Frank Coakley who served as District Attorney until 1969.

As DA, Coakley returned to the trial courts in 1955 to prosecute Burton Abbott in one of the most highly-publicized cases in the history of California. Abbott was charged with abducting and murdering 14-year old Stephanie Bryan as she was walking home from school in Berkeley. Abbott was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed in San Quentin’s gas chamber in 1957. For Coakley and the DA’s Office, the 1960’s were a particularly difficult time because of civil unrest and criminal acts associated with the free speech movement, Vietnam War demonstrations, and the emergence of the Black Panther Party in Oakland.

In this interview Robert Treuhaft, local attorney and ally to The Flatlands, gives an update on the latest developments in the case of Luther Smith. Police had executed a no-knock warrant against Smith and, in a case of mistaken identity, had severely beaten him and traumatized his family. Smith had enlisted Treuhaft and fellow Flatlands ally John George to fight back in the legal arena.

On the day of interview, Treuhaft and George had filed charges on behalf of all seven members of the Smith family, as a preliminary measure on the way to seeking damages from the Oakland Police Department, the City of Oakland, and the 30 police officers involved in the raid.


On September 14, 1944 the trial opened. Coakley argued that a strike was mutinous in time of war. He dismissed the defendants’ claims, stating, “What kind of discipline, what kind of morale would we have if men in the United States Navy could refuse to obey an order and then get off on the grounds of fear?”

The questioning of the defendants was loaded with racial language, and the prosecutors often disparaged the men’s honesty, especially when their spoken statements contradicted their earlier statements—although the men had complained from the beginning that the transcriptions were inaccurate. One defendant had refused to load ammunition because he’d broken his wrist the day before the work stoppage and was wearing a cast. Coakley replied that “there were plenty of things a one-armed man could do on the ammunition dock.”

The Roots of Ed Meese : Reagan’s Polemical Attorney General Has Prompted a Major Constitutional Debate, Surprising Those Who Knew Him in His Pragmatic Early Days, in the Quiet Hills of Oakland and During the Turbulent ‘60s


MAY 4, 1986 12 AM PT


It was easy to overlook Ed Meese at the start of Ronald Reagan’s first term in the White House. Interior Secretary James G. Watt and United Nations Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick easily overshadowed the longtime Reagan factotum as Administration standard-bearers for the New Right. Meese was late to controversy, and even the revelations about his personal financial dealings that emerged from his confirmation hearings as attorney general smacked less of outright wrongdoing than did the accusations against a host of lesser appointees who by the second Reagan term had been driven from office.

Of the troika of advisers who served the President during his first term, Meese was the most outspoken on issues but nonetheless was rather colorless–certainly no media attraction compared to Chief of Staff James A. Baker III, the daily nuts-and-bolts man, or Deputy Chief of Staff Michael K. Deaver, the Nancy Reagan confidant.

Nevertheless, statement by statement, controversy by controversy, Edwin Meese III began to emerge in the public perception–even before he became attorney general in 1985 after a rancorous year of debate over his nomination–as a one-man scourge of traditional liberal thinking and as the Administration’s ideological point man.

In 1981, in a speech before the California Peace Officers Assn., he called the American Civil Liberties Union a “criminals’ lobby.” At Christmas time in 1983, he said he had seen no “authoritative” evidence of a serious hunger problem in America, and that some people go to soup kitchens “because the food is free, and that’s easier than paying for it.” This year, five days before Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was first celebrated as a federal holiday, Meese invoked the slain civil-rights leader’s name in attacking affirmative action. King, said Meese, would have opposed affirmative action as a violation of his ideal “colorblind” society.

His Justice Department prompted a series of congressional investigations by refusing to seek the indictment of Teamsters Union president and FBI informant Jackie Presser in connection with a payroll-padding scheme that bilked Presser’s union local out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and by negotiating a plea with–rather than prosecuting–executives of E.F. Hutton & Co., the giant brokerage house caught in a huge fraud case that resembled a massive check-kiting operation.

But far more alarming to many lawyers, judges and legal scholars was the attorney general’s frontal assault on decades of established constitutional doctrine. He sparked a profound constitutional debate by arguing that Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Bill of Rights had violated the intent of the Founding Fathers. He attacked the high court’s long-accepted Miranda rulings on the rights of criminal suspects. He sought to roll back the so-called exclusionary rule, which bars the courtroom use of evidence obtained without “reasonable cause.” And, in an unusual move by an attorney general, he publicly called on the Supreme Court to reverse its landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

Many who have known the attorney general since his days as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County in the early 1960s are puzzled by what they detect as a growing vehemence in Meese’s policy decisions and his pronouncements. They don’t quite recognize their old friend and colleague, whom they remember as pragmatic and mild-mannered. Is Meese a changed man, some wonder, or was he always the gladiator he seems to be now? After years of working in the wings of Reagan administrations in Sacramento and Washington, had he simply been waiting for the right moment to unsheathe his ideological weaponry?

The answer, they suggest, lies in Meese’s roots–in a devout and tightknit family that found its highest calling not in grimy politics but in public service; in the shifting social and political structure of Alameda County during World War II, when large numbers of blacks surged in and eventually gained power; in the chummy atmosphere of the debating clubs of Yale and the district attorney’s office in Oakland, and in the political turmoil that wracked the UC Berkeley campus and propelled Ed Meese into a friendship with Ronald Reagan and, eventually, into the White House.

San Francisco Appellate Court Justice Clinton W. White, an eloquent jurist who graduated from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall law school a decade before Meese and for many years was a criminal defense attorney in Alameda, has observed Meese for years from close up and afar. “I can’t think of any time in Ed’s life,” he says, “when he would have received any environmental conditioning that would have made him a liberal.”

“Years and years ago, before the First World War, when I was growing up here in Oakland, it seemed there were a lot of German people around in comparison to other people,” says Leone Meese, the gentle-spoken, 82-year-old mother of the attorney general. “All our relatives were members of the Zion Lutheran Church in west Oakland. Both my husband and I belonged as children. We all lived within a radius of six blocks. I used to stop in and see both of my grandmothers on my way home from school. It was still the same thing when Ed was growing up. My husband’s mother lived next door. Later, when her husband died, she lived with us. The men seemed to die young then. My father was originally a cooper, then later he worked as a manager at Durkee’s–in the mayonnaise department.”

A tall, stolid woman whose husband died last year, short of his 90th birthday, Leone Meese lives in a 17th-floor apartment furnished in slipcover hodgepodge, with a splendid view of Lake Merritt and its island bird sanctuary. She has agreed to see me only after she has cleared it with her son, who has declined to be interviewed himself. “He told me to ‘keep it simple,’ ” she confides, which she does her best to do. Periodically, she interrupts herself to ask me not to print what she’s just said, explaining apologetically, “Ed wouldn’t like that.”

With all her touching self-censorship and innate modesty, Leone Meese conveys a portrait of a loving, pious and admittedly square American family that was typical of an earlier era but for the minor ethnic variable of their German Lutheranism, an authoritarian and conservative religion that was a powerful influence and source of spiritual support for all the Meeses.

Herman Meese, the German-born great-grandfather of the attorney general, arrived in Oakland in 1850, at the tail end of a wave of German Lutherans who came to America in the early 1800s, in flight from Prussian religious persecution. Their Lutheran sect, known as the Missouri Synod, is considered one of the religion’s most conservative branches. It is known for its Biblical literalism, its strict hierarchy and its typically uninvolved attitude toward government. An insular people in many ways–they developed the second-largest parochial school system in the country–Lutherans have close family and clan ties and a strong aversion to flamboyance.

Many, like the Meeses, eventually settled in the sun-drenched, hilly Oakland neighborhoods with picturesque names such as Piedmont and Glenview. The very name Piedmont came to symbolize the white bastion from which most of Oakland’s political establishment came. In contrast was the west Oakland flatland where the Meeses’ church, Zion Lutheran, was located. The church underwent a radical transformation with the influx of Southern blacks who began arriving en masse during World War II. They came as sailors to nearby Alameda Naval Station, and they came to work in the shipyards as part of the war effort. Black Lutherans eventually started to attend the Zion church.

“They had segregated services,” says Bishop Will Herzfeld, whose Bethlehem Church now occupies the Zion site. Blacks worshiped earlier in the day. Whites came in later–“after they’d aired the church out,” Herzfeld says with a cutting laugh. Eventually, the Zion church vacated the ghetto in favor of the tight, white Piedmont enclave in the neighborhood near where the Meeses lived–straight up Park Boulevard to the strictly residential hills. The new Zion church was perched on a scarred rocky hillside like a small medieval cloister.

Leone Meese readily acknowledges the influence of the religion on her own and her sons’ upbringing, but she says a far greater influence on the boys was her late husband, whom she calls “the most marvelous example.” Edwin Meese Jr. had a law degree and a doctorate in jurisprudence. He clerked in police court before he was elected treasurer-tax collector for Alameda County, a post he held until his retirement.

This type of public service easily overrode traditional Lutheran antipathies for government. The Meeses, more than many of their neighbors, became a family as patriotic as they were pious. They were exemplars of the Protestant American ethic. Ed and his three brothers worked for spending money. Ed had paper routes. In his teens he earned $2.50 a day clearing trails in the rugged East Bay park system. There was neither luxury nor pretension in the Meese household. On birthdays for the boys it was always hamburgers. At Easter it was spring lamb. Every night the whole family knelt to pray together. Every night they all stood to say the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a ritual bonding–part of a way of life that made the Meeses particularly close.

Adversity would have a similar effect. According to Leone Meese and many who knew the family back then, when second son Myron was born with spina bifida, a crippling disease that left him partially paralyzed (but even today still able to work part time at the Zion church office), the family drew together in a protectiveness that would be repeated years later, in 1982, after the tragic death in a car accident of Ed’s son, Scott.

Ed Meese shared a room with Myron, but without a doubt, his mother says, Ed was particularly close to his father. With her husband’s example before him, it was no wonder that her eldest son was mad to become a lawyer, Leone Meese says, and that he looked forward eagerly to a career in politics and law enforcement. Her husband often came home in the evening from his job as police court clerk and entertained their son with stories extolling the excitement of the law. Ed Meese became a fan of Perry Mason.

In high school, Meese’s fascination with courtroom forensics found an outlet when he became a member of the debating team. Back then, however, honing his public speaking skills was for sport, not for an arsenal in service to an ideology. Still, debate became his favorite extracurricular activity–which was saying a lot, considering the many service organizations and activities he had joined in his youth: publishing a news sheet with his brothers at the age of 10 and using the profits to buy war bonds; being a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, and joining Oakland High’s military club, the Sabers, to name a few. It marked the beginning of a lifelong commitment in volunteerism.

According to fellow high school forensics society member Casey James, today a cryotechnician at the Stanford University Linear Accelerator, Meese didn’t start out with the freewheeling oratorical skills James sees in him today. “Ed operated under a handicap–the kid could never think on his feet. I could wing it,” he says, more with amusement than braggadocio, “but Ed was too meticulous. He didn’t do well arguing a point of view he didn’t believe in.” Still, “once he formed an opinion, it was hard to sway him.”

Debating, of course, places a premium on the ability to present any side of an argument, regardless of the speaker’s personal preferences. It was a skill that would later serve Meese in good stead as an adviser to a governor and a President. Those who have seen Meese in his adviser’s capacity say that he has been particularly valuable to Reagan because of his ability to present several options succinctly and without prejudice.

Meese continued his debating at Yale, where he studied political science on a scholarship. He was a mediocre student, but he managed to juggle his education with his many other activities: president of the Yale Political Union, member of a Lutheran student organization and manager of the school track team.

In 1958, he married his high school sweetheart, Ursula Herrick, whose father was Oakland’s postmaster. Her family was almost a mirror image of his own, though Episcopalian (she would worship at her husband’s church after their marriage). “Ursie,” as the family calls her, won the “outstanding woman” award at the College of the Pacific in 1954 before going to graduate school at Radcliffe and beginning work as a deputy probation officer. Like their respective parents, Ed and Ursula Meese would be known for their simplicity. They dressed down. They were unpretentious at home. In their Sacramento days, old friends say, they had backyard barbecues rather than cocktail hours. “Ed dries the dishes,” one friend says. In Washington, Ursula Meese feels more comfortable serving brunch than hosting dinner parties.

Their wedding, however, was full of pomp and tradition. The reception, held in the officers’ club on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, had the trappings of a union between two samurai families–the Meeses and the Herricks of Oakland–right down to cutting the cake with a military sword.

As it turned out, Meese would grow attached to more than just the trappings of the military. In 1954, he left law school at Berkeley for a hitch in Army artillery. But soon after he switched to military intelligence, where he felt more at home. He has retained an enthusiasm for the logistics and intelligence methods he learned in the Army and has applied them throughout his public career: as a deputy district attorney in Alameda; as the governor’s man on the scene during social protests in the ‘60s, and as White House counselor and later attorney general, mapping out commando-style operations–using military equipment–as part of the Reagan Administration’s war on drug traffic. He retained his membership in the Army Ready Reserve until 1984, when he reluctantly retired amid controversy over his highly unorthodox promotion to colonel in 1981. (During his Senate confirmation hearings for attorney general, critics charged that his promotion, and his transfer from the inactive reserve six days before his mandatory retirement, may have violated federal as well as Army regulations.)

Meese returned to Boalt in the late ‘50s and in his final year turned his attention to an internship in the Alameda district attorney’s office. It came as no surprise that after his graduation he was almost immediately hired as a deputy by Dist. Atty. J. Frank Coakley. Meese, says San Francisco’s Judge White, “was one of those sons of the Piedmont Establishment who knew as law students that they could go right into the Alameda district attorney’s office upon graduation.”

Meese’s military bent might never have surfaced as a deputy district attorney were it not for the coincidence and proximity of the exploding Berkeley campus during his years in Alameda law enforcement. The Ed Meese who graduated from Boalt in 1958 was a member of the silent generation–a Boalt classmate describes him then as an “all-American, Jack Armstrong type” who wore white shirts and sported a crew cut. As deputy district attorney of Alameda in the ‘60s, he was suddenly thrown into the midst of a campus in turmoil. College political activists rioted against the witch-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee in 1960. Students at Berkeley began to protest everything from nuclear testing to compulsory ROTC training.

The Oakland in which Ed Meese grew up, and the university he had known as a neighbor and law student, were in the process of tremendous change, and he reacted without hesitation to what he viewed as a danger to society.

Meese left his mark forever on Bay Area law enforcement with his handling of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, which sprang from protests over enforcement of a long-dormant university rule forbidding demonstrations that dealt with off-campus issues and barring speakers from certain areas of the school. In fact, it was Meese’s contribution to the FSM crackdown (which he conducted with Deputy Dist. Atty. D. Lowell Jensen, now Meese’s deputy attorney general) that first won him the notice of Ronald Reagan, who came to the state governorship in 1966 on a campaign promise to “clean up the mess” at Berkeley. Meese is widely credited with establishing new techniques and methods in mass arrests. It was Meese, local historians say, who ordered police to nab the movement’s leaders first, leaving the group without its principal organizers. He also favored early morning arrests, when there were fewer crowds and less media attention. Under his supervision, arresting officers for the first time used Polaroid cameras to take identifying photos on the spot, thus avoiding any later question in a trial about the defendant’s participation and obviating the need for taking large numbers of protesters to the police station for booking. The same techniques were employed at Berkeley in recent weeks when demonstrators were arrested for protesting university ties to South Africa.

Meese’s experiences with the Free Speech Movement also made him a firm believer in the coordinated use of several law-enforcement agencies (such as the Sheriff’s Department, local police and National Guard) to quell civil disturbances–a strategy that he would later champion as attorney general in the fight against drug trafficking.

The way Meese saw it, the use of such force was justified in the face of a state of siege from people he considered subversives. During the FSM trials, Meese described one sit-in as a “paramilitary operation.” He would later testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee that the antiwar movement was responsible for prolonging the war by encouraging the North Vietnamese, and that it “cost a lot of American lives.”

Tom Houchins, the bald-headed, cowboy-style vice president of a San Francisco security firm, enjoys telling war stories about the days when he led the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department–known as the Blue Meanies because of their blue jump suits–to meet the ragtag Berkeley demonstrators over the bit of UC-owned turf known as People’s Park. Houchins especially remembers the time when Ed Meese would not be dissuaded from coming along with Houchins and his men in the final mop-up to clear the illegal occupiers of Moses Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

In 1966, when Gov. Ronald Reagan chose Meese to be his secretary of clemency and extradition (the title and duties were soon changed to legal affairs secretary), social protest had grown more militant and widespread. During the bloody uprising at San Francisco State College in 1969, Meese stepped into the fray and took control of the college from its president, S.I. Hayakawa. And he was working for Reagan in Sacramento in 1967 when the Black Panthers strutted into the Assembly, outfitted with weapons and bandoleers, to protest a bill restricting the carrying of weapons. To Ed Meese, this was a state of siege.

But it wasn’t mere fear that drew Meese toward the war-games aspect of his work. Those who knew him in his early days in California law enforcement and politics say he has always exhibited an unbridled enthusiasm for the police–even more than for the military. One of his hobbies was collecting small model squad cars and statuettes of pigs, the protesters’ epithet of choice for the police in the ‘60s. The way some describe it, Ed Meese was an action junkie. A standing joke in the courthouse was that Meese would drop anything he was doing and go out to answer a police call coming in over his desktop police radio.

But Deputy Atty. Gen. Jensen says Meese’s celebrated rides with the cops were nothing out of the ordinary. “It was a regular practice for us to ride with them on patrol. D.A.s in Alameda were close to the police,” he says. In Jensen’s opinion, it served an important purpose. “D.A.s could help educate the police about exclusionary law, for example. There was good feedback from police to help our job.”

“It was perfectly proper to ride along with the police,” agrees Clinton White, “but I don’t know many who had developed a reputation for what they call a ‘police mentality’ the way that Meese did early on. He’s into law enforcement. It’s part of his ideology.”

“Ed loves the cops beyond most D.A.s,” says Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stanley P. Golde, a former attorney for the Free Speech Movement who, even though he is a Democrat opposed to capital punishment, was made a judge by Reagan at Meese’s urging. “If you’d asked him as a young lawyer if he wanted to head the FBI or Scotland Yard, he might have done it, because he loves to map out an operation. But it’s not a John Wayne type of thing. He wouldn’t want to be the cop himself and shoot people.”

Besides, Ed Meese was doing very well on his peculiar track through the Alameda County district attorney’s office. For anyone interested in law enforcement, the gray granite county courthouse was an enormous draw. Tough-talking Dist. Atty. Coakley took Meese in at an early age, then groomed him and Jensen to become his two most trusted confidants.

Golde became Meese’s friend in the short years they were adversaries. “Ed was always pragmatic,” Golde says. “I’d show him what I had, point out what wasn’t that good in his case, and we’d settle it.” Golde, the older man, says he taught Meese a few things. But he didn’t, he claims, have to teach him humanity. Meese could be “compassionate–almost kind,” Golde says. “Ed understands individuals messing up, but not any political movements or groups who violate the law.”

James C. Hooley, then chief assistant public defender, sees Meese’s “pragmatics” with attorneys like Golde in a different light. “He was not lenient,” Hooley says. “It seemed like his cases always pled guilty–at least they never went to trial.”

The way leftist attorney Robert Treuhaft sees it, Ed Meese and Stan Golde were only carrying on a local tradition of mutual back-scratching at the defendants’ expense: “When I came out here from New York,” Treuhaft says, “I was dismayed at how they did things here. Oakland was very much a hick town, despite its D.A.s’ rep for excellence. Criminal attorneys around here were all friends with the prosecutors. They’d screw the clients for the lawyers’ ease, because they had to deal with each other all the time. I was upset. It was so unprofessional.”

“When we started, it was like a club of gentlemen,” Golde agrees. But he has a different interpretation of its effects on Meese. To Golde, Meese’s friendliness with defense attorneys made him more flexible. It meant Meese respected and could work with his opponents.

Suzanne Goldberg, one of the FSM student leaders, remembers Meese in yet a different way from most of his old colleagues. She remembers the pointed contrast between the two prosecutors–Jensen and Meese–whom she saw in court every day for weeks. “Jensen,” says Goldberg, now a Washington psychologist, “was a real mensch. He was decent, even though he was prosecuting us. Meese would never respond to us if we’d smile or say hello to him in the halls. He’d walk by without speaking.”

Such lapses in civility were the exception. Indeed, Meese learned to make his own brand of tepid affability the perfect countenance for his travels through the bazaars of politics and government. He seems to have saved his most passionate expressions for his own chosen arena–the hundreds of keynote speeches he’s delivered at dinners for 500, where rhetoric is a part of the menu.

There are dozens of examples. Addressing a luncheon of the California Safety Congress in the late ‘60s, Meese equated traffic violators with “criminals,” each one “as much a potential murderer as a man with a gun.” Appearing on “Meet the Press” in 1981, Meese declared that government workers who leak classified information to the news media are “betraying this country.” Even his friends winced when he called the ACLU a “criminals’ lobby.” Golde calls such statements “Ed’s horror stories. He tells them to make a point. He always did. It’s because he loves going after goldfish with a cannon.”

Meese’s sometime knack for verbal overkill (or, as some would call it, his tendency toward demagoguery) exists in odd juxtaposition to another aspect of his personality–that of the bland, faceless public servant with a chameleon-like ability to melt into Ronald Reagan’s political camouflage.

Meese was very much in the background in Sacramento, first as legal affairs secretary and later as Reagan’s chief of staff. “I remember him as an efficient administrator rather than a big conservative ideologue,” says a former AP bureau reporter in Sacramento. “I can see him standing over in the corner of the briefing room, his arms folded across his chest during one of Reagan’s regular press briefings. Reagan would be groping for a figure and look to Ed. Or he’d give him a questioning look and Ed would nod ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ No one viewed Ed as a real heavyweight.”

“He never gave orders,” says Bob Hawkins, president of the Sequoia Institute, a conservative think tank in Sacramento, who used to report to Meese after he was brought in to direct the troubled state Office of Economic Opportunity. “We arrived at decisions through consensus. It was one of the things I enjoyed about working with Ed.” Another was Meese’s prodigious mastery of all the reports crossing his desk. The youthful Hawkins says he was “amazed” at the access he was given to Reagan’s busy chief of staff.

At least one observer, a Republican Party activist and consultant who has known Meese since his days in Sacramento, has a different view. Meese’s lifelong habit of volunteerism–membership in clubs, hundreds of speaking engagements–has meant a career marred by overextending himself, which has led to a constant state of disorganization. One of Reagan’s first campaign advisers, John P. Sears, called Meese’s briefcase the “black hole of Calcutta” because he seemed to lose so many papers. (This may also explain the incident last year in which the L.A. Police Department issued a warrant for Ed Meese’s arrest–for his failure to pay a 5-year-old jaywalking ticket.)

“His biggest weakness is that he doesn’t have the ego or self-confidence to manage himself or other people well,” says the Republican consultant. “He has such an obsession to do the perfect thing that he waits too long and doesn’t delegate authority. In his Sacramento days he hired people not nearly as able as he was.”

Golde, on the other hand, calls Meese a “superb organizational guy,” though he laughs and adds, “but he’s a slovenly bastard. His desk was always a mess, his collar wrinkled, and his tie would have a spot on it.”

Meese’s managerial style may help to explain the man Ed Meese has become. He was forced to change as the wheels of government office got larger and harder to turn. “Ed’s incapacities to manage broad issues pushed him to be more ideological,” the consultant says. The troika of Reagan advisers–Meese, Deaver and Baker–was shuffled to accommodate the needs of the President against the abilities of his advisers. “Deaver knew Ed was temperamentally better suited as an adviser than running a huge staff. So Ed would skim off the ideological cream of the issues, and Baker would get everything else.”

The trend in Meese’s increased political posturing, which Boalt Hall classmate and FSM defense attorney Malcolm Burnstein calls “more and more rabid,” was greatly accelerated, some say, by the yearlong Senate confirmation hearings on Meese’s fitness to be the top lawyer in the country. It was a hurtful time, Leone Meese concedes. Meese came under intense scrutiny for several alleged misdeeds, the most serious being that he had helped get high-level federal jobs for several acquaintances who had given him loans, helped him sell his house or arranged for mortgages. Other charges included the questionable promotion in the Army Reserves and that he had repeatedly failed to publicly disclose some of his financial dealings as required by law. The allegations were numerous and persistent enough that a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate. Some legislators–Republican and Democrat–suggested that he withdraw his nomination. He was eventually cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, but one longtime acquaintance, who asked that his name not be used, thinks the ordeal did have an effect: “He’s not really given to anger–he has a strong sense of self–but when you look at some of the positions he’s taken since then, you can’t help but suspect that anger underlies his aggression.”

Meese clothed himself during that year in the kind of stoicism borne by his Lutheran forebears. Once again, he retreated into the solace of his family, and particularly Ursula, who Leone Meese and others say is the closest friend Ed Meese has. His vulnerability was hidden from the public. It fitted with his Lutheranism. It fitted with the way the Meeses eschewed public display: “We were never a demonstrative family,” Leone Meese admits readily. “We kiss ‘hello’ or ‘goodby’ and that’s about it. We know we love each other. That’s the important thing.”

That kind of emotional restraint appears to have served Meese well in his career as political operative for Ronald Reagan. “Ed is the perfect public servant,” says Golde.

But it has also extended to his personal life, even among his closest colleagues. He is aloof, many of his friends and associates say, from everyone but his wife and members of his family. In fact, says one longtime acquaintance, a former state government official who for a time worked closely with him in Sacramento, “if you look at Ed Meese, you’ve got to really wonder how many good friends he actually has.”

Perhaps Ed Meese’s mild-mannered rectitude has suited him well in his life of public service, and more important, in his service to Reagan. “He’s playing the role that Agnew did for Nixon–that of lightning rod,” says the former state official. Another California Republican insider argues: “I don’t think he cares about abortion more than any other issue, but I think he’s pragmatic and will carry the President’s agenda forward whatever the content. His great attribute is his loyalty.” It may be, as Clinton White says, that Meese’s entire history has led him to become the sometimes bland, sometimes bellicose right-wing crusader.

And, after all, his loyalty and political skills have hurtled him higher in public life than any Meese forebear had ever gone before. Even the attorney general’s normally modest mother admits that she’s proud.

Edwin Meese

1900 9

Meese when appointed to treasurer4

Edwin Meese (March 28, 1857 – June 1, 1933) was a member of the City Council in 1899, 1903 and 1905 and later served as the City Treasurer. He was an avowed Republican/Municipal Leaguer. 1

Meese went to school in Fort Wayne for 4 years and then came back and attended Heald’s Business College in San Francisco, class of 1876. He joined his father’s company, Bay Sugar Refinery which was the first sugar refinery on the West Coast. He then went into the insurance business. He was a member of the Board of Trade and the Nile Club and director of the Chamber of Commerce2 He was involved in the creation of the Chamber.

In 1908, Richard B. Ayer resigned from his post as City Treasurer/Tax Collector. He had been appointed to the position in 1906 then elected in 1907. He resigned and Meese took the position on April 1st, 1908 when Mayor Mott appointed him. Allegedly Ayer resigned to continue in his personal business affairs, but it was noted that the whole thing was handled with great secrecy. 3It appears he must have been on Council in 1907 as well, but this is not indicated by the election book. Will have to come back to this.

In 1912 Meese was accused of serious misconduct in his post as Treasurer/Tax Collector and charges were brought in Superior Court. 5,6 Meese denied the charges, and said MacMullen was doing it to “get even.” 8 C. S. MacMullen failed to substantiate his charges, and the suit was dropped. 7

Meese was a Lutheran and active in German Lutheran affairs in the state. His father, Hermann Meese, was the first president of the congregation of the German Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church.

Full text of an opinion piece from Western Outlook April 3, 1915, Volume XXI, Issue 28, page 2:

The public life of Oakland has embraced Edwin Meese within its progress for the last fifteen years.

Mr Meese is essentially a Californian and has grown up with Oakland. He is now candidate for commissioner No. 2 and is causing it to be thoroughly exploited that he wants to be the next commissioner of revenue and finance. Edwin Meese’s father was one of those gritty pioneers who came west in 1850 and who made a success of his life.

Edwin Meese was born in San Francisco in 1857, and is now in the prime of his life and ripe with experience. Young Meese received his early education in San Francisco and, after a period in college at Fort Wayne, he graduated through the old Heald Business College in the town of his birth.

Meese’s first position in business life was as secretary of the Bay Sugar Refinery, from which he resigned to engage int he mercantile business in Sacramento. Quickly making a success in the capital city, Meese came to Oakland and invested his little all here in 1879, and since that time he has been among the most active and useful of Oaklanders.

In 1898 Mr Meese entered public life, being elected a councilman from the Fourth ward. He was later elected at large and served seven years in the city’s governing body.

In 1907 Meese was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of RB Ayer as treasurer. At the succeeding election Meese’s worth was recognized by all parties and his nomination and election were unanimous.

When a member of the city council Meese was elected chairman of the finance committee and thus began his study of the city’s finances, and as treasurer Mr Meese has under his supervision the tax collector’s office, the bureau of permits and licenses and the street improvement bonds department. In all of these departments methods have been introduced by Mr. Meese which have tended to systematize the work, giving with a minimum of expense a service which is not only appreciated by all those having direct dealings with the office, but which have been copied as models by other municipalities.

Mr Meese would, therefore, appear to have served a long and successful period of training for the position which he seeks at this time, that of commissioner of revenue and finance.

Mr Meese has a charming family. In addition to his wife there is one daughter and a son, who is now attending the University of California.

Meese Family

His son Edwin Meese, Jr. (1896 – 1985) served six terms as the Treasurer-Tax Collector of Alameda County and attended Zion Lutheran Church in Piedmont on Park Blvd. His grandson Edwin Meese III (1931 – present) was U.S. Attorney General from 1985-1988 under president Ronald Reagan.



From the halls of California’s State Capitol in Sacramento to the Oval Office in the White House, Meese was Ronald Reagan’s most trusted aide. At each step of Reagan’s rise to the presidency, Meese was at his side. A young prosecutor when Governor Reagan tapped him to join his new administration, Meese quickly gained the respect of his boss and became known as the “assistant governor.” Meese advised Reagan through two presidential campaigns and then managed the smoothest presidential transition in history. 

He was a central figure of the famous “troika” that guided the White House in President Reagan’s first term. As Counsellor to the President, he functioned as the president’s chief policy adviser and had management responsibility for the administration of the cabinet, policy development, and planning and evaluation. During the time he held both these positions, Meese was a member of the president’s cabinet and the National Security Council. He coordinated many of Reagan’s most important proposals, including judicial selection and the Strategic Defense Initiative. 

Reagan Staff

“No one could synthesize policy for the president as Ed did,” remarked James A. Baker, chief of staff for President Reagan in his first term. “He was superb.” “Reagan valued Ed’s mind,” said Michael K. Deaver, “his ability to sum up and recommend.” Meese was instrumental in Reagan’s success at lowering taxes, stimulating economic growth, winning the Cold War, and restoring America’s confidence after years of poor leadership by several presidents. 

When Reagan nominated Meese as Attorney General he stated that “Ed is not only my trusted Counselor, he is also a person whose life and experience reflect a profound commitment to the law and a consistent dedication to the improvement of our justice system.” This commitment was demonstrated by the goals he outlined during his swearing-in in 1985: “First, the protection of the law abiding from the lawless with due and careful deference to the Constitutional rights of all citizens; secondly, the safeguarding of individual privacy from improper governmental intrusion; third, the vigilant and energetic defense of the civil rights of all Americans; and fourth, the promotion of legal regulatory structures designed to conserve and expand economic freedom.” 

During his tenure at the helm of the Department of Justice, Meese was a leader in the war on drugs, international efforts to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, and a crucial voice of conscience when the Administration confronted the Iran-Contra affair. 

Reagan and Meese


It was three decades ago, when then-Attorney General Ed Meese initiated an important spirited national debate about the proper application of our most important governing document—the U.S. Constitution. His goal was to persuade judges, even Supreme Court justices, to agree they should respect the text of the Constitution and the intent of the Founders who wrote it. 

In a July 1985 speech to the American Bar Association, Meese declared that the Supreme Court had engaged in too much policymaking in its latest term and showed too little “deference to what the Constitution—its text and intonation—may demand.” 

It is fair to conclude, he said, that far too many of the Court’s opinions were “more policy choices than articulations of long-term constitutional principles.” Instead, Meese said, the high Court should employ a “Jurisprudence of Original Intention”—a return to the intent of the authors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

With that speech and two others that followed, Meese was the first attorney general since Robert Jackson (under President Franklin D. Roosevelt) to question how the Constitution ought to be interpreted and to recognize there is a role for the executive branch in “shaping the form of jurisprudence.” 

The reactions of the proponents of an ever evolving “living constitution” ranged from the incredulous to the furious. They protested that the Meese Justice Department was engaging in a “badly disguised attempt” to limit the constitutional rights of minorities. They hailed Supreme Court Associate Justice William J. Brennan Jr. when he described the constitutional views endorsed by Meese as “little more than arrogance cloaked as humility.” Defending his judicial activism, Brennan stressed the need to adapt the Constitution “to cope with current problems and current needs.” 

Meese calmly responded that he welcomed Brennan to the widening legal debate about the Constitution. “There is a sense that a sea change is upon us,” commented A. E. Dick Howard, a professor of law at the University of Virginia, and “Mr. Meese is willing to lead the charge.” 

Preserve the Constitution - Meese Mukasey and Ashcroft 2.jpg

Indeed he was. Meese reiterated the theme of “original intention” in speeches before the Federalist Society and Tulane University, saying that interpreting the Constitution’s “spirit” instead of its words invited the danger of “seeing the Constitution as an empty vessel into which each generation may pour its passion and prejudice.” He charged that the current judicial activism was not faithful to the written Constitution. 

He argued that a Supreme Court decision “does not establish ‘a supreme law of the land’ that is binding on all persons and parts of the government, henceforth and forever more.” Meese stood on firm ground. Abraham Lincoln had led a great war to overturn the Court’s decision in Dred Scott, which said Congress could not stop slavery in the territories. 

“An activist jurisprudence, one which anchors the Constitution only in the consciences of jurists,” he added, “is a chameleon jurisprudence, changing color and form in each era.” A true approach, he said, “must respect the Constitution in all its parts and be faithful to the Constitution in its entirety.” 

Meese was not a revolutionary but an apostle of ordered liberty—the prudential blending of individual liberty and political order under the Constitution and through a jurisprudence of Original Intention. The “Great Debate” that he started three decades ago placed the idea of judicial originalism at the center of American jurisprudence. It fundamentally altered the constitutional landscape of this nation. Let us now praise the man who initiated that debate and helped preserve and protect our liberties and those of generations to come. 

Reagan, EJF, Meese.jpg


In addition to working to select constitutionalist judges during the Reagan Administration and advancing a jurisprudence of originalism, Meese was also a key founder of the freedom-based public interest legal movement. Starting 45 years ago, the freedom-based public-interest law movement set out to restore the original meaning of the Constitution, oppose judicial activism, and challenge the radical agenda of liberal litigators. 

Dedicated young lawyers, many mentored by Meese, took up the cudgels against an array of well-financed, well-organized attorneys. As Meese puts it, these principled and determined organizations “have stopped Goliath again and again.” It is in no small part due to the guidance and leadership from Meese that there have been major legal victories in critical areas such as property rights, school choice, religious freedom, eliminating racial discrimination, freedom of speech, workers’ rights, and economic liberty. 

In 1973, Meese helped to form the first freedom-based public interest law firm, the Pacific Legal Foundation. Unlike other public interest firms, it differed because it was formed to defend and enhance individual and economic freedom in our country through litigation supporting free enterprise, private property rights, and limited government. This was a perfectly coordinated outgrowth from many on then-Governor Reagan’s legal team. Meese and others saw that early success litigating on behalf of private property rights suggested that its model could—and should—be duplicated in other regions of the country. 

Because of the vision of Ed Meese, these freedom lawyers, these modern-day Sons of Liberty, continue to grow and flourish across the country. They are guided by the principles of the U.S. Constitution, as originally construed, and are dedicated to preserving the political miracle that occurred in 1787 in Philadelphia — the creation of a government of laws and not of men. 

San Francisco County



   HERMANN MEESE was born in the kingdom of Hanover, Germany, November 10, 1826.  His father, a contractor and builder, died in 1836, when Hermann was about ten years of age, and from his foreman, who continued the business, Hermann learned his father’s trade, and in order to perfect his knowledge of the same traveled some, reaching New Orleans in 1848, from which place he went to St. Louis, working at his trade there for about two years.  In March, 1850, he started with about 130 men overland for California, and after a hazardous trip of seven months reached San Francisco, where he resumed his trade as contractor and house builder and continued the same until 1865; a few years previous he associated with several friends establishing a company for the purpose of refining sugar, and as he was still engaged in the building trade he commenced work on the refinery which was completed and commenced operation in 1864; in 1865 the company was incorporated under the name of the Bay Sugar Refinery, elected Hermann Meese as its president and also requested him to assume the duty of manager, which office he accepted and discontinued the business of contractor and builder; he retained the office of president of the Bay Sugar Refinery until 1879, when the company sold the refinery and discontinued business.

   In 1858, while still at his trade, Hermann Meese became the owner of a vineyard in Los Angeles county, and about three years later joined four other owners of vineyards at Anaheim, Los Angeles county, in establishing a wholesale wine business, with headquarters in San Francisco, under the name of United Anaheim Wine Growers’ Association, carrying on the business of selling and exporting California wines in furtherance of which a branch was established in Chicago, and a large trade gained through this branch until 1870 it joined the other business houses of Chicago in the memorable fire; this branch was discontinued and the shares of the other members of the business in San Francisco were bought by Hermann Meese and John Bach, and the business continued under the firm name of Bach, Meese & Co., until 1888, when Mr. Meese sold out his interest, and, the refinery having also discontinued, Mr. Meese retired from business.

   In 1864 Hermann Meese was elected President of the German Evangelical Lutheran St. Paulus Congregation, which office he retained until 1879, when he moved to Oakland, where he was instrumental with the help of others in organizing the German Evangelical Lutheran Zion’s Congregation, of which he was chosen President, and this position he still (1891) occupies.

   Hermann Meese was married in 1853, in San Francisco, to Catharina Margarethe Waldman, also a native of Hanover, Germany, who died in 1880 leaving six sons and one daughter, all of whom are living:

   Constant (now married), who after completing his education learned the machinist’s trade, was assistant manager of the Bay Sugar Refinery and then with John Clot established the Reliance Machine Works, which business they now carry on as clot, Meese & Co.

   Edwin (now married), after a three years’ course in an Eastern college, was for several years bookkeeper in the Bay Sugar Refinery and is now in the insurance business in Oakland.

   Walter (now married), who after his school education completed a course at Heald’s Business College, became engaged in the Bay Sugar Refinery, in the interest of which company he made a trip to San Salvador, Central America, remaining there one year, and upon his return was engaged as bookkeeper for Bach, Meese & Co., remaining with them seven years, when he established a wholesale wooden and willow ware business in Oakland, which he still retains, extending his business throughout Alameda county.

   Hermann (now married), a graduate of the high school, after a course at the State University is now in the newspaper business in Kansas City.

   Emma (now Mrs. Heinrich Stut), whose husband is a civil engineer with headquarters in San Francisco.

   Gustav (now married), a graduate of the high school and of the business college, was for several years head bookkeeper of a wholesale grocery business in san Francisco, and is now cashier and head bookkeeper of a wholesale wooden and willow ware business in Portland, Oregon.

   Adolph, who after a school education learned the printer’s trade and is now engaged as compositor with a permanent firm in San Francisco.

Transcribed by Cathi Skyles.

Source: “The Bay of San Francisco,” Vol. 2, page 308-309, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

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1 Response to Arresting And Disarming The American Revolution

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

     Friday was Ladies’ Day, and the jolliest day of the week. The traditional hospitality and sociability of the Teuton were ably vindicated by the wives and daughters of the local sharpshooters. These ladies of the Schützenfest received the ladies of the ladies of the visiting members.
            There was a concert by Ritzau’s American ladies orchestra, dancing in the pavilion, and singing and merrymaking everywhere; and at last, but not least, the charming Schützen Liesel, her picturesque costume giving the quaint old-time touch necessary to complete the picture and make the color true.
            When night drew down, the festivities increased, and after the laurels of the day had been distributed from the Temple of Gifts , the park was illuminated, and amid the sputtering of fireworks and blazing rockets a grand ball and general jollification wound up the day. Nor were the marksmen idle.

    Jack London’s Schützenfest Articles | Rosamond Press

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