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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Daniel H. Pollitt (1921- )

Daniel Pollitt is a well known expert on constitutional law and a champion of civil rights and civil liberties. He completed his undergraduate studies at Wesleyan University and then served as a marine in the Pacific theater during World War II. After graduating from Cornell law school, Pollitt (whose parents were also lawyers) worked in Washington, D.C., as a clerk for an appeals court judge and on the staff of the Americans for Democratic Action. In the latter capacity, he helped defend Lillian Hellman, who was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In his first teaching job at the University of Arkansas, he refused to sign a loyalty oath and left for a position at Carolina, where he was a steadfast supporter of civil rights and freedom of speech. During the 1960s, he worked closely with students who demonstrated against segregation and UNC’s Speaker Ban Law. He also served as a defense attorney in numerous capital cases and represented clients in free speech and civil liberties cases, as well. At Carolina, he was elected chair of the faculty and in 1982 was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award.