August 20, 2002
On August 23, 1971, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce circulated a memorandum by southern lawyer Lewis F. Powell, Jr., titled "Confidential Memo: Attack on American Free Enterprise System" (August 23, 1971). Two months later Powell was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. This essay, by Jerry M. Landay, describes the importance of the Powell memo, which ignited a right-wing political movement that eventually led to the takeover of the Republican Party by an alliance of fundamentalist religious zealots and pro-corporate exremists who eventually seized control of the Presidency, the Congress, and the federal judiciary. The verbatim text of the Powell memo itself is available in this library under the title, "Confidential Memo: Attack on the Free Enterprise System."