Ali's Supreme Court Fight Hits the Screen in New HBO Movie
The film spotlights acclaimed boxer's challenge against the military draft.
Burger exploded at Harlan's switch, according to The Brethren and the movie. But if that was the end of the story, Ali would have still gone to jail. The vote was now 4-4—which would leave standing the lower court ruling against Ali, without a ruling.
But Brennan and Justice Potter Stewart thought that outcome would damage the court. They began the internal campaign to persuade colleagues to switch their votes, and they latched onto a technical issue contained in the Sicurella ruling. One by one, the justices switched, and finally Burger did, too. The decision for the court in Clay v. United States was brief and unsigned, and did not contain language that could be read as a green light for widespread granting of objector status.
The movie is about courage shown by both Ali and the Supreme Court, says Slovo. "It was a way to portray Ali as a man with enormous integrity, incredibly inspiring," she said. "And it shows that the Supreme Court was able to respond to what was happening in America at that time—the new zeitgeist. They finally agreed that this wrong had to be made right."
Contact Tony Mauro at firstname.lastname@example.org.