Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (2013) Movie Script

This bout, 15 rounds
for the heavyweight championship
of the world.
The challenger from
Louisville, Kentucky,
weighing 210
and one-half pounds,
the former Olympic
light heavyweight champion,
Cassius Clay.
Of those of you
who won't be able
to see the
Clay-Liston fight,
here is the eighth round
exactly as it will happen.
Clay comes out
to meet Liston
and Liston
starts to retreat.
If Liston goes back
an inch farther,
he'll end up
in a ringside seat.
Clay swings with his left,
Clay swings with his right.
Look at young Cassius
carry the fight.
Liston keeps backing, but
there's not enough room-
It's a matter of time
- our Clay lowers the boom.
Sonny Liston's
not coming out.
Sonny Liston is
not coming out.
He's out!
The winner and the new
heavyweight champion
of the world is Cassius Clay!
I'm the greatest fighter
that ever lived.
I don't have a mark
on my face
and I upset
Sonny Liston
and I just turned
22 years old.
I must be the greatest.
I shook up the world.
I shook up the world.
I shook up the world.
Cassius is not
my name no more.
Muhammad Ali now?
Muhammad Ali.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mr. Muhammad Ali
has just refused to be inducted
into the United States
Armed Forces.
Notification of his refusal
is being made
to the United States Attorney,
the State Director of
the Selective Service System,
and the local
Selective Service Board
for whatever action
deemed to be appropriate.
How did they treat you? Respectable.
Respect for law in a nation
is the most priceless asset
a free people can have.
And the Chief Justice
and his associates
are the ultimate
custodians and guardians
of that priceless asset.
And when we consider
what a Chief Justice has
in the way of influence
on his age
and the ages after him, I think
it could fairly be said
that our history tells us,
our Chief Justices
have probably had a more
profound and lasting influence
than most Presidents have had.
Good morning, Petrus.
Good morning, sir.
How was your summer?
It was good to get away,
Mr. Chief Justice, sir.
Nice to see you again.
You, too, sir.
Thank you.
Good morning.
Come in.
Mr. Connolly. I'm
Mrs. Paige, P- A-I-G-E.
You're 27
minutes late.
You're not off
to a good start.
I'm sorry. My car broke
down. Mr. Connolly.
Back down
the corridor.
The washroom is the
third door on the right.
Thank you.
Straight ahead,
Mr. Connolly.
We've got ourselves
a live one there,
huh, Mrs. P?
Don't flirt with me,
Mr. Becker.
It does not
become you.
Morning, Chief.
Good morning, sir.
This term,
we really must do
something about
this office.
It's ridiculous.
It's not satisfactory.
It's smaller than my office
at the Court of Appeals.
I'm the chief, Petrus.
Makes no sense.
Take those geraniums
to Maintenance.
Oh, and Petrus,
don't overwater them.
They won't bloom.
Yes, sir.
Mr. Justice,
this is Kevin Connolly.
Sorry I'm late, sir.
Please, take a seat,
Mr. Connolly.
Your grandfather.
Yes. He was on the court
for 34 years.
"The great dissenter. "
The only justice to vote
against segregation.
Plessy v. Ferguson.
But even in his dissent
he still
called the white race
the dominant race
and vowed it would
continue for all time. Heh.
Oh, sir, I-I'm sorry.
I wasn't thinking.
That's actually very rude.
You know your Court
history, Mr. Connolly.
Or maybe you just did some
research to impress me.
There is currently
a case in court.
Cohen v. California.
Cohen walked
through a courthouse
wearing a jacket with
the words "Fuck the Draft"
inscribed on the back.
He was sentenced
to 30 days.
"Congress shall
make no law
abridging the freedom
of speech. "
That's a very literal interpretation
of the First Amendment.
Clearly, if the First Amendment
protects speech of any kind,
it protects
political speech.
And if the Court is saying
that anti-war protests
are not protected
by free speech,
then it's not paying
attention to what's
going on
outside its doors.
I know your
war record, sir.
Oh? Then you know
I'm no pacifist.
You should know I was
a student activist.
I've worked as a legal
advisor to draftees,
informing them of their
rights, I'm a Democrat-
Mr. Connolly, I'm not
interested in your politics.
Here we're only
interested in the law.
Besides, it's all in here. Huh.
Tell me something.
How would your wife
feel about
relocating to DC?
Well, clearly,
we've talked about it,
in principle, that is.
She... I think she'd
be very happy for me.
We're expecting
our first child, sir.
Oh, how marvelous.
Well, thank you
very much, Mr. Connolly.
Um... are you-are you
gonna hire me, sir?
Hmm. Well, we may not
agree on certain matters.
We may take different
positions on many things.
I'm only interested
in your I.Q.,
which I see
is substantial.
And your academic skills,
which I note are impressive.
I want brilliant people
and I'll take care
of the rest.
Wow. That's great, sir.
Thank you, sir.
That's all.
Uh-on the other hand,
you could make
the argument that
wearing a jacket
in the courthouse
is not speech
but conduct.
"An absurd
and immature antic,"
and is therefore not protected
by the First Amendment.
Now you're just
showing off.
Yes, sir.
Mr. Justice.
Kevin Connolly. Hi.
How you doing?
Covert Becker
the third.
What's your school,
Sam Edelstein.
The first.
I have been here
6 months.
Covert here is
a second termer.
Guess that makes you
the boss.
Oh, I guess it does.
What's with
- with all the lights in there?
That's the justice's eyesight,
and it's getting worse.
That's you.
Yale, Harvard,
Columbia, Chicago.
That's the norm.
It's tradition.
I don't believe we've ever had a clerk
from the University
of Missouri before.
Yeah, no black clerks,
no women clerks.
I guess that's
tradition, too.
Great. Another bleeding heart liberal
Well, you've landed with
the wrong justice, my friend.
Plus, the Chief
is Nixon's man,
and another conservative has just been
to the Court.
Thank you, God, a change is gonna come.
Why do you insist
on being called
Muhammad Ali now?
That's the name given to
me by my leading teacher-
the Honorable
Elijah Muhammad.
That's my original name.
That's a black man name.
Cassius Clay was my slave
name. I'm no longer a slave.
What does it mean?
"Muhammad" means
"worthy of all praises"
and "Ali" means
"most high. "
This will be an organization
that will give the black man
in this country
the right to defend himself.
It will encourage him
to defend himself,
and it will teach him
how to defend himself.
By any means necessary.
This is the regular
dance that I use
just before the shuffle.
I'm moving and I'm moving
and I'm jumping around
and just before you know it...
a split second right after that
shuffle is the big punch.
We are 22 million people
who don't have our names.
We were named after
our slave masters.
So teaches the Honorable
Elijah Muhammad.
Once you become free,
find out who you are,
then you will start saying.
"I am the greatest. "
Over there.
Please be certain
to escort all the justices
to their
designated seats.
Justice Harlan, sir.
I don't want
Justice Brennan
sliding in beside Justice
Marshall, for example.
Liberals scheme.
Let's keep them
apart, shall we?
Hello, John.
Petrus, I hear
your daughter
cum laude.
Indeed she did,
Mr. Justice.
That's wonderful.
Please congratulate
her on my behalf.
I will.
Thank you, sir.
Let's walk over together,
shall we, John?
Oh. Thank you.
I have big plans for
the Court this year.
Oh? During my first year,
it became quite
clear to me
there was something
wrong with the design
of the courtroom
We're all seated straight in a line.
We can't hear
each other.
We can't
see each other.
It's terrible
my solution.
I'm going to curve the bench. Ah.
You see, that way,
we can see each other.
We can hear
each other.
And it's going
to prevent Hugo
from shouting
"Pardon me?
Pardon me?"
every 10
minutes, eh?
That's a very good
idea, Warren.
Yes, as it was mine, I
thought it was very good.
Sir, sir,
if you please.
you're seated
there, sir.
One black man,
8 white men,
average age 71.
Gentlemen, please join me in
welcoming Harry to the Court.
Welcome, Harry.
Cheers, Harry.
Harry Blackmun
and Warren Burger.
The Minnesota twins.
They grew up
When Burger got married,
Blackmun was his best man.
That's why Nixon
appointed him.
He's gonna vote with
Burger every time.
Hip-pocket Harry.
When President Nixon
nominated my friend Warren
Chief Justice,
a staunch defender
of our Constitution,
I thought he couldn't
have made a better choice,
and his first year
on the Court
has proven the
President correct.
to Warren. To Warren.
Hear, hear, Warren.
I don't know. What Presidents
expect of their Justices
and what those
Justices deliver
can be two very
different things.
Better get
started, boys.
There's more on the way.
I got a threesome
here, guys.
3 chicks.
Wait, what's
that about?
Porno cases.
Every Friday afternoon,
the Justices
sneak down to the basement
to watch dirty movies.
They're looking
for a case to hear
so they can test
the obscenity laws.
But it's more an excuse
to have a good time.
Hey. Clay, a. k. a. Ali, versus
the United States of America.
Oh, the draft
Isn't he
in jail yet?
Hey. Ali's back up the ladder!
Float like
a butterfly,
sting like
a bee!
Justice Brennan, sir.
Ooh. I was not expecting
this. Not at all.
But sir, this case has already
been before the Court, hasn't it?
It was turned down flat.
I was the only one who
voted to hear this case.
They told me I was
off on a cloud.
It was sent back down
to a lower court.
So, why is it back up?
Ali's lawyers challenged
the lower court hearing.
He's free to appeal again.
Operation Stealth Attack.
Go find out what
the others are thinking
and report back
to me.
I'm guessing Hugo Black and
Bill Douglas will be on our side.
Don't bother with the
Chief and Harry Blackmun.
We know what
position they'll take.
These days, Ali's
a hero for taking a stand.
People are not
going to like it
if we send him
to jail.
This time around,
let's see who's
off on a cloud.
Ha ha ha.
How can a man, any man,
regardless of color,
turn around when he is called
to serve for his country
and say, "Hell, no, I won't go"?
the White House, sir.
Thank you, Janet.
Chief Justice Burger here.
Mr. President.
I just don't think
I should go 10,000 miles
and shoot some
black people that
never called me nigger,
never lynched me,
never put dogs on me,
never raped my mama,
enslave me and deprive
me of freedom.
You refused go
and fight in Vietnam.
Was it because you disagree
with the war in Vietnam?
Or because you disagree
with fighting generally?
I believe in
the Holy Quran.
It says we who declare
ourselves to be righteous Muslims
will not take parts
in no wars.
No way,
fashion, or form
which take the lives
of other humans
unless it's a Holy war
declared by God himself.
Do you think
there's anything wrong
in someone like Cassius
Clay, Muhammad Ali,
in refusing induction?
Yes, sir. I certainly do. Why?
Because he's no better
than the rest of us.
You look very pale.
Do I?
How's the pain?
I'm all right.
Better, I think.
Have you
called Abe?
Not yet.
If you don't,
I will.
I think
I'm quite capable
of calling
my own doctor.
Then what's
stopping you?
I'm so, so,
so sorry.
I just couldn't get away. I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
Hey, buddy.
Welcome to DC.
It's a new suit.
Yeah. You don't
like it?
It's very snazzy.
Why, thank you.
Not sure about
the color, though.
Come on!
I'm sorry.
Is he kicking?
Kevin, she's only
12 weeks.
It's a little
too early. Yeah.
I missed you.
Even my critics don't
agree with them.
Because you just can't take
a man's title out of the ring.
You gotta...
it's never been done
in history, and, uh...
all type moves have
been made against me
that's never been made before
in the history of boxing.
And the only way they can take
my title will be in the ring.
And I've been
telling the world
for the past 4 years that I'm...
Thank you,
Mr. Justice, sir.
Second floor,
my man.
Yowsa, yowsa, yowsa.
Ahh. Larry.
Do you mind?
Ahh. Shouldn't
smoke, Larry.
Uh, sir,
I'm Stephen.
Stephen Blacher.
Larry left at the end
of last term.
Oh. So he did. Hmm.
I stand corrected.
John, you haven't
said anything.
How is your back?
Potter, I have
a sacroiliac
joint dysfunction.
One leg longer
than the other.
Surgery then?
Not yet.
Back support,
shoe lifts,
pain medication,
for the time being.
You know,
the other day,
I decided to compute
how many boiled eggs
I've eaten
in my life.
Two a day
for about 60 years.
You know how many
that is?
give or take.
That's a staggering
It's disgusting.
Yes, it is. Ha!
Justice White.
Covert, marshal
the troops.
See you on
the court in 10.
Yes, sir, Mr. Justice.
6-1! Mr. Justice, that's not legal.
You took 4 steps
and that was a foul.
Says who?
Your boss
is a cheat.
A Supreme
Court Justice!
You tell him, Becker.
My boy teaching you
the ropes?
Of course I am, sir.
It's pretty
overwhelming, sir.
There's a lot
to take in.
Go for the joog-ular.
The what, sir?
In these 4 walls,
it's the only way
to be heard.
They call us justices
9 scorpions in a bottle.
Who's the heavyweight
champion of the world?
One more time.
We don't want no excuses.
They may say the film was bad
or the camera was broke.
One more time, who's
the champ of the world?
A very controversial musical
play with a controversial star
recently stirred up,
as you remember,
the Broadway
audience and critics.
Here's the World Famous
Heavyweight Champion
Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay
in a scene from that play,
"Buck White," so let's have
a fine reception for him.
We came in chains,
we came in misery
Do you think you'd
have an easier time
if you weren't
a black Muslim?
No, sir. Not black Muslim, it's Muslim.
I think I would
have a harder time
if I wasn't a Muslim.
I might be dead now
from forcing integrating and
marrying out of my own race,
and drinking and smoking
and laying around bars,
catch a flying bullet.
If it wasn't for
the Muslim teaching,
I'd be in bad shape.
I'd be just another, what we
call "bum negro fighter. "
Uh, it's in
alphabetical order, sir,
Clay, a. k. a. Ali,
Cohen v. California,
Phillips v. Marietta-
Which one's that?
young children,
the company refused
to hire her.
Oh, yes-yes-yes.
I know you don't
agree, but I've
included my brief
on Ali.
You're damn right
I don't agree.
You're out of
line, Henry.
Nobody in my office should
tell me how to vote.
I'd fire the lot
of you,
but you're all
so incompetent
you'd have trouble
finding another job.
Do you mean, sir,
you'd be prepared
to read, assess,
comment, advise,
draft majority
opinions, dissents,
draft concurrences,
bench and post-oral
arguments yourself?
John, can I
help you with those?
No, thanks.
I'm fine.
On Clay,
a. k. a. Ali,
my boys button-holed
your boys.
None of us can
get a handle
on how you're
gonna vote.
Uh-huh. Well, that's
for me to know
and you to find out.
Aw, come on. I can't stand the suspense.
He was the first person to say,
"Don't rush into a decision. "
He's been very kind. He's
been very understanding.
In his own way...
Mr. Justice, it's time for conference.
You better
get going, sir.
Well, I suppose we
should start without him.
Yet again.
v. Marietta.
Now, the woman they wouldn't
hire had preschool children.
How could she
hold down a job?
That's for her
to decide.
Well, as far as
I'm concerned,
an employer
can hire-
What's shakin',
Chiefy baby?
Oh. We started without you, Thurgood.
We're on Phillips
v. Marietta.
Hi. Hey.
As I was saying,
as far as
I'm concerned,
an employer can hire
whoever he wants
and for
whatever reasons.
That is the boss's
Now, I'd like to hear why
we should hear this case.
It's discrimination
on the basis of sex.
Your position amounts
to a declaration that
part of the Civil Rights
Act is unconstitutional.
With all respect,
I don't want to argue
legal niceties.
You never do.
My first clerk
back in '56
at the Court of Appeals
was a woman.
She had young children,
and she had to leave
every evening at 6:00.
She had to go home.
She had to cook dinner.
Didn't work out well at all.
Well, I see you all have
different opinions.
All right.
Why don't we take a vote?
Clay, a. k. a. Ali,
v. the United States.
This is a waste of
the Court's time.
No one wants
to hear this case.
Excuse me, Chief, I
want to hear the case.
And I'll
tell you why.
Ali never backed down
from his beliefs.
He took
the consequences
of refusing induction.
Bill, you can't slow
us down on this.
We have a very heavy load
of cases to consider today.
He took the consequences.
He lost his title.
He gave up almost
3 years in his prime,
millions of dollars
so that he could stand up
for what his conscience
told him was right.
He's clearly a man
of great principle.
The Court is always
on dangerous ground
When it decides cases according
to the Justices' own views.
Which one of us is free
of those, John?
I think it's terribly important
that we exercise self-restraint.
I think it's
also important
that we express
what we believe.
Ahh. I'm out of here.
There's clearly
going to be a vote.
I'm recusing myself.
I was the
Solicitor General
at the time of
Ali's conviction.
I hate the Nation of
Islam, Elijah Muhammad,
and his bunch of
thugs and gangsters
organized from
the jail.
They preach
racial segregation.
I am
an integrationist.
I was born in 1908,
the year
Jack Johnson
knocked out
Tommy Byrnes.
Oh, yeah, a Negro
was the heavyweight
champion of the world.
What happened
the very next day?
They went out
looking for
the great
white hope...
to take back
the title.
There were race riots in
Springfield, Illinois,
the home of
Abraham Lincoln.
89 Negroes...
were lynched that year.
To qualify for
conscientious objector status,
you have to satisfy
3 basic requirements.
We know what they are.
I shall quote them.
One, you must be conscientiously
opposed to war in any form.
Two, your opposition
must be based on
religious training and belief.
Three, you must show
your objection is sincere.
Hmm? No need
to shout, Warren.
I'm listening.
Gentlemen, I'm wondering if,
in the future, we might not
end these sessions
a bit earlier.
Well, we can hardly get
through the case load as it is.
It doesn't
make much sense.
Hugo is 83 years old.
He's not in the best of health.
I may be slowing up,
but I am not dead yet.
Shh. Are they
still in there?
My God. These sessions take forever.
Yeah, Brennan won't
let them out
until they hear
the Ali case.
You'll see
- 5 votes to 3, they'll hear it.
Really? 5 votes to 3, they won't.
Come on.
It's 5 to 3, they won't. Here you go.
6 votes to two,
they won't.
You're an idiot, Scott.
Brennan, Black,
and Douglas
are gonna vote
to hear the case.
You're right. OK, 5 votes to 3 for Ali.
You can't flip
your bet, man.
Come on. You already gave me your money.
All right,
it's a squeaker.
But 4 votes
to hear the case,
Brennan, Black,
and Douglas,
and I got a hunch Stewart's
gonna vote with them.
I got a hunch
he won't.
To file for conscientious
objector status,
you have to be
a member of
an organized religion
or sect.
The Nation of Islam?
What is that?
Let's just take the
vote and move on, please.
Look, I know where
most of you stand.
I don't expect the
Court to find for Ali,
but at the very least,
I think we should
grant a hearing.
If we imprison
such a high-profile
war dissenter
without granting him
the full protection
of the legal process,
it could be seen
that the government
prosecuted the case
on a political basis.
Stuff and nonsense.
Say what, Chief?
You know my position.
If the Court won't rule
on the legality of the war,
let's at least
rule on this case.
At least two.
This is a very
complex case.
Does Ali satisfy
the 3 tenets
of conscientious
objector status?
I need more time
to look at this.
Oh, for God's sake.
Harry, you can't agonize
over this any longer.
You just
have to vote.
If you insist, but you're
bullying me into this.
On the face of it, I
don't think Ali has a case.
I agree
with the Chief.
This case is
a waste of our time.
I don't even know why
we're discussing it.
I was against
World War II
until Pearl Harbor,
against the Korean
War start to finish,
and against the Vietnam
war from the start.
A waste.
A mistake.
We're paying a high
price for that.
Hugo, what is your vote?
We should hear the case,
goddamn it.
Didn't you hear
what I just said?
That's 3.
I think Ali should
get his day in court.
I vote to grant.
And 4. Ha! No one wants
to hear the case, huh?
You got that one
wrong, Chief.
Well, all this
wouldn't have happened
if the petitioner
had not been Muhammad Ali.
That's right. We are hearing the case
because the petitioner is Muhammad Ali.
What'd he say?
All right, gentlemen,
you've got your 4 votes.
The case
will be heard.
But it takes 5
to overturn.
Yeah, where's that
fifth vote coming from?
Justice, Sir.
Good afternoon, sir.
Sir? What was
the vote on Ali?
We're going to hear
the case,
Lord only knows why.
Bill Brennan's doing. He politics
his way around everything.
On Phillips vs. Marietta,
I want you
to draft an opinion
that under
the Civil Rights Act,
an employer may not, in the
absence of business necessity,
refuse to hire a woman with
children of pre-school age.
Sir, that's not what you
told us before conference.
You said the employer
was within his rights
not to hire the woman.
You said
you were upholding.
That was
a tentative vote.
Petrus, did you get hold
of the court plans?
They're on your desk, sir. Thank you.
He just changed his
vote, just like that?
There's no mileage in
voting with the minority.
If he votes with
the majority, he gets
to assign the opinion,
or write it himself.
Complaining about
Bill Brennan.
He's got a nerve.
Chief is always
pulling the strings.
Do not
underestimate him.
Hold all my calls, please.
It's Friday night.
Why aren't you at
home with your wife?
Oh, she's used
to it, sir.
I just need to catch
up a little bit.
No, no.
This is important.
You must take every
moment you can.
Pack up. I'll give you a ride home.
Sir, would you
like me to drive?
New lenses. It takes a while to adjust.
You and Donna free
on Sunday for lunch?
Sir, please
let me drive.
12:30 or 1 suit you?
That sounds nice.
Thank you. Uhh.
This is nice.
Good afternoon.
How are you
settling in?
Fine, sir,
thank you.
I'm enjoying DC.
I have a dog.
He's good company.
Ha ha!
We're going
on lots of walks.
Oh, I know the hours
are long. It's hard.
Here you go, ma'am.
Oh, why,
thank you, dear.
How long have you
been married, sir?
Hmm? 43 years.
When I first met Ethel, she
was married to somebody else.
But I stole her
away from him.
Am I right, dear?
We planned to have
the wedding at
Ethel's aunt's house
in Waterbury.
It was Hartford, John.
Hartford. You're
absolutely right, my love.
But on the day,
the aunt fell ill,
so we had to switch
the ceremony
to the First
Congregational Church
in... where was it?
Farmington. Right.
That's right.
Well, at the last minute,
I suddenly realized
that the marriage
license was invalid
outside the Hartford
city limits.
So, we met in Hartford
for an early-morning
and returned to Farmington
for an early
afternoon wedding.
Well, as ever, sir,
another testament
to your devotion
to both the spirit
and the letter
of the law.
Happiest day
of my life.
I... perhaps
I should get ready.
We have guests for
cocktails, don't we?
No, no, not today.
Not today.
Silly me.
Silly you.
Kevin, after lunch,
I'd like to take
a quick look
at Coolidge
v. New Hampshire,
if you wouldn't mind.
Of course.
Won't keep him long. Promise.
Sir? Sir, are you
all right?
Sir. Give me a minute, please.
Ah, yeah, that's better.
Um, would you like me
to read for you, sir?
Yes, yes, that-that would
be helpful, Kevin. Thank you.
Um... "In the wake of a
particularly brutal murder
of a 14-year-"
Sir, would you like
me to call somebody?
No, no, no, no.
Please continue.
"In the wake of a
particularly brutal murder
"of a 14-year-old
"the New Hampshire
attorney general
"took charge of
police activities
"relating to
the murder.
"The suspect,
Edward Coolidge,
"is claiming that
the searches
"of his home
and automobile
violated his Fourth
Amendment rights. "
I haven't burned
my own draft record.
But what I'm doing is legal.
This is why I believe
I'll receive
justice in the higher courts.
You can deny the draft
on any grounds
but you'll have to go to court-
it's law.
If you lose, you go to jail,
which I said I'd do.
My fight is legal.
But if you notice, I'm being
the most persecuted.
I'm not allowed
to work in America.
I'm not allowed
to leave America.
Home of the brave,
land of the free.
I'm not allowed to,
not even allowed
to leave where I can work,
countries that will accept me.
And now I'm due
$10,000 fine in 5 years.
All this brings on
racial trouble.
People see this, they see
other athletes and entertainers
getting by on little excuses,
and I know I'm sincere.
But now I get a heavy penalty
to the white preachers
that break in the government
house, burn up the draft card,
hang statutes of the President,
lay on the Pentagon steps,
leave America white citizens.
But I'm the bad one now,
the poor slave.
Now I'm the bad one.
All rise.
The honorable,
the Chief Justice,
and the Associate Justices
of the Supreme Court
of the United States.
Oyez, oyez, oyez.
All persons having business
before the Honorable, the Supreme
Court of the United States,
are admonished to draw near
and give their attention
for the Court is now sitting.
God save the United States
and the Honorable Court.
Docket number 2-9-9,
Cohen versus California.
Mr. Nimmer, you may proceed
whenever you are ready.
The Court is
thoroughly aware
of the facts
of this case.
It will not be necessary
to dwell on them.
At Mr. Chief Justice's
I certainly will
keep very brief
the statement of facts.
What this young man did
was to walk through
a courthouse corridor
wearing a jacket
inscribed with
the words-
Mr. Nimmer, we agreed, it is
not necessary "Fuck the Draft. "
to dwell on the facts.
I suggest we avoid
using that word
for the rest of
oral argument,
and we simply refer
to it as... "that word. "
Yes, your honor. The Court
should rule on the war.
We are arguing that
the State may not,
consistent with the First
and Fourteenth Amendments,
make the simple
public display...
Every day
in Vietnam,
young American men
are killed
because this country
refuses to admit
that we've
made a mistake.
Let's go.
Who wants to be
the last person
to die for a mistake?
That's enough.
This Court should rule
on the war!
This Court
should rule...
Well, people bring
passion to politics,
and vulgarity is
simply a side effect
of a free exchange
of ideas.
Calm down.
Get out.
He's right. The Court
should rule on the war.
Oh, Bill, you've been
singing that song since '66.
Yes, and I'll go on
singing it, Whizzer.
Bill, please.
My name is Byron.
This is not a war
that's making the world
safe for democracy.
It's a war of aggression.
It is
up to Congress
to challenge the
war, not the Court.
It's up to
the Court to decide
the constitutionality
of it, Byron.
If I was still
in the Senate,
I would lead the charge!
They're trying
to say that they want peace.
They're trying to say that
they want to stop the killing.
They're trying to say that
they want to end the draft.
They're trying to say that we
ought to get out of Vietnam.
I agree with everything that
they're trying to accomplish.
Yes? It's the White House, sir.
Thank you, Janet. You can
put the call through, please.
Who's acting for the vets?
Is it Ramsey Clark?
I believe so, sir.
Get Ramsey Clark
on the phone,
and the Solicitor
General as well. Yes, sir.
There is a real danger
to security, Chief.
The anti-war protestors
have advertised plans
to shut down the city.
"Advertised plans?"
The government
has no business
unlawful conduct.
The Justice Department is
seeking a re-instatement
of the lower court order
to prevent the Vets from
camping on the Mall at night.
Well, the Appeals Court
rule they can stay-
This is the Supreme Court,
Mr. Clark,
and if the United States
believes there's
a danger to security,
I will have no choice
but to reinstate
the lower court order.
The city won't grant
them a permit
to camp anywhere else.
You'll be evicting
a peaceful group
before their
protest is over.
Well, due to
the lateness of the hour,
I believe the order won't
be instated until tomorrow.
Sir, first thing
in the morning,
I will appeal the
decision to the full Court.
I'm not sure
the other Justices
will support you.
Well, that remains to be seen,
Mr. Clark.
I drove past
on my way here.
There are thousands of them
camped out there.
Oh, Warren, they are
veterans against the war.
Men and women who
fought for their country.
There is chaos, John.
Police barricades.
Traffic is stalled all the
way up Pennsylvania Avenue.
It's as if the entire
city is under siege.
They were in Court today.
Tomorrow, they could
be in Chambers!
Tonight, I had
to reinstate
the lower court order
to evict them.
You shouldn't
have acted alone.
It was an emergency
The president is
very concerned.
Excuse me, did I
hear you right?
You spoke
to the president?
I speak to him often.
He's a good friend.
A Justice should be wholly
removed from politics.
I don't even vote in
Presidential elections.
First thing tomorrow,
Ramsey Clark
will appeal my ruling
to the full Court
and I don't wish
to be overruled, John.
In 20 years, that has
only happened once.
Now, I need you.
I depend upon you
to talk to the others.
Bill Brennan,
Thurgood in particular.
Bill Douglas.
The decision
must be unanimous.
It is essential to both
the Court and the Nation
that we all
come aboard on this.
I would
appreciate it, John.
the Chief's order
is a breach of
the First Amendment.
Government's trying
to govern by court injunctions.
We're being asked to do
Nixon's dirty work.
The Chief should've gone into politics.
That's his true calling, not the law.
Yeah, just like
Bill Brennan.
Hugo, please.
I think you all
malign the Chief unfairly.
Since his appointment,
debate in conference
has been more open,
much freer
than it ever was
under his predecessor.
You can't argue with that.
I know this is not ideal
and normally we have
the luxury of time
but this was
an emergency petition.
And there's no point
in conflict.
You just get locked.
I'm with you, John.
To overrule
the Chief would be
a personal affront.
Personal affront? What
are you talking about?
It is not in our interest to
embarrass him, or the Court.
We have to vote
with the Chief.
Let me have one of these,
John. Yeah. Yeah, go ahead.
Well, shall we
put it to a vote, then?
Thank you, gentlemen,
for your unanimous support.
Excuse me, Chief.
I'm afraid
the demonstrations outside
are growing stronger.
I pledge allegiance
to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
with liberty
and justice for all.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
with liberty
and justice for all.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
with liberty
and justice for all.
Do you know
it's the first time
in the history
of the Court
that the doors have been
closed during working hours?
Is that so?
This is
serious, sir.
The government can't stop
people from assembling
because of some
vague fear
that they're gonna
commit a crime.
These protesters
were exercising
their constitutional
On the Mall, in
front of the Court.
They weren't
causing any trouble.
I would say
it was necessary
to protect the city
and the Court.
And I say fiddle-sticks to that, sir.
It's the First
It's the law, sir.
If the Supreme Court's not gonna protect
the constitutional rights of the people,
then who is?
Sir, please remain
completely still.
A tumor.
On one of the vertebraes
of my lower spine.
I'm sorry to hear
that, John. I really am.
I'll tender my resignation
at the end of the term.
Yeah. Yeah, I think
that's best.
John, smoking?
Oh, you know what
the doctor said?
He said, "If smoking
gives you comfort,
then carry on smoking. "
Cigarettes are the least
of my worries, my friend.
When Muhammad Ali lost
his heavyweight boxing title
for refusing military induction,
he also lost his
license to fight.
Now after 31/2 years
out of the sport,
the state of Georgia
is willing to let the ex-champ
back in the ring.
He said
it was a very severe cut.
That's the reason he stopped it.
The winner at the end of the
third round-Muhammad Ali!
The next step in the boxing
comeback of Muhammad Ali
will be a bout with
contender Oscar Bonavena.
And he
goes down again!
It's over.
Ali is the knockout winner
at two minutes and 3 seconds.
If Joe comes out smoking,
I ain't gonna be joking.
I'll be peckin' an' a-pokin',
pouring water on his smokin'.
This might shock and amaze ya,
but I will retire Joe Frazier.
I have a lot of speed
and a lot of endurance.
When I meet Frazier,
he'll need more insurance.
...he's wearing
red trunks.
He weighs 215,
undefeated in 31 bouts
scoring 25 knockouts,
here it is Muhammad Ali!
Not gonna go
his way in court.
Won't go his way
tonight, either.
Ali's the better fighter.
Lighter on his feet.
He's gonna dance around
Frazier and wear him down.
The heavyweight
champion of the world,
Joe Frazier.
Round 11.
Again, Ali
appearing to be quite weary.
Frazier looking much stronger.
Frazier throwing
many more punches.
...Frazier throwing punches.
That one hurt.
Look at that.
Muhammad Ali staggers.
Muhammad Ali was rocked.
He's holding on desperately.
Bill, one more.
You're up, Connolly.
Right, this is
the final round of the fight
and what a fight it's been!
This is
the final round!
Referee Arthur
Mercante has them touch gloves.
Something they've
been doing all night.
Muhammad Ali
has gotta go box him.
Joe Frazier
against Muhammad Ali.
...he is up. He got up
immediately on the count of two.
The referee
Arthur Mercante scores it
8.6-1 even for Frazier.
One vote for Joe Frazier.
Artie Aidala 9-6 for Frazier.
Frazier is the winner!
Ali's history.
Heavyweight champion
of the world, Joe Frazier!
Joe Frazier!
For the first time
in his career.
Muhammad Ali was beaten!
Docket number 7-8-3.
Clay, a. k. a. Ali,
versus United States.
Mr. Eskridge, you may
proceed whenever you are ready.
Mr. Chief Justice
and may it please
the Court.
On February 16, 1966,
my client wrote a letter
to his local draft board
alleging facts
which he claimed
entitled him
according to the law
to conscientious
objector status.
In his handwriting,
he wrote,
"Muslim means peace,
"total submission
to the will of Allah;
do not take the lives
of anyone. "
His request was denied.
The Appeal Board
referred the matter
to the United States
Justice Department.
The Justice Department
appointed a hearing
officer-Judge Grauman.
Judge Grauman heard
several witnesses.
He also had in front of
him, the record shows,
Elijah Muhammad's book
"Message to the
Blackman in America. "
Judge Grauman found
that Ali was sincere
in his objections to
participation in war
in any form.
The government
rejected this finding,
stating that
Mr. Muhammad Ali
would fight "tomorrow,"
quote unquote,
in a defensive war
on behalf of Muslims.
Mr. Eskridge,
when you say
"fight in a defensive war
on behalf of Muslims,"
that is what is known as
participating in
a holy war,
is it not?
It is, Mr. Justice, yes.
And that is
in the Quran.
Yes, sir.
It's also referenced
in Elijah Muhammad's
So, he would fight?
Uh, ahem.
Sir, Black Muslims
have taken some of their
beliefs from the Quran
and fashioned them
to the black man's
experience in
the United States.
In this
holy war,
who would your client
be fighting?
Sir, nowhere
in the record
has my client ever said
that he would
fight with weapons
against anybody.
Mr. Griswold,
the Hearing Officer,
Judge Grauman,
recommended that
Mr. Ali's
conscientious objector
status be sustained.
Why did the government choose
to ignore his findings?
As your honors know,
the government is not
represented at
such hearings.
Well, what I'm
interested in learning
is why
the government determined
that Ali's beliefs were
not religiously rooted.
We accept
that his beliefs
are religiously
You accept that his beliefs
are religiously rooted?
Yes, Your Honor, we do.
But you question
his sincerity.
We do not question
his sincerity.
You don't
question his sincerity?
No, Mr. Justice,
we do not.
Mr. Griswold, what is
the government's objection?
Sir, the only question
before the Court now
is that his objection
was selective.
It is not enough for his
objection to be religious;
it must also
be an objection
to participation
in wars in any form.
The Petitioner
just doesn't want
to fight
the white man's wars,
and I can
understand that.
At the same time,
he has no
religious or conscientious
scruples against
participation in wars
which would defend
the black man's
In this summary
of the first hearing,
"Clay objects to being
in service because
he has no quarrel
with the Vietcong. "
In his own words, quote,
"No Vietcong ever called
me nigger," unquote.
Since Mr. Ali would
participate in a holy war,
he is not a true
conscientious objector.
Mr. Eskridge,
people have always
fought wars for
religious reasons,
and then would defend them
as being holy wars,
"just" as opposed
to "unjust. "
Like the Crusades.
So, your client would
fight a holy war but-
and I'm quoting
you here-
"wouldn't fight with weapons
against anybody. "
I'm sorry.
I'm confused.
How do you
stand now with
the possibility of
going to jail?
Oh, I don't know. I'm
just waiting any day now.
Do you think
about that, though?
Do you ever think
what you'll do
or if you do go?
Why, yes, you think about it at
nights when you're in the bed.
You think about, you know,
if I went this way,
what could have happened,
if I went this way,
and I've figured it
all out.
But whenever people want
to really make progress,
some have to sacrifice
a lot,
and I like to say
white America right now
spending $30 million
a day in Asia,
black and white boys are
dying unjustly for nothing
just to free somebody else.
So, why should I worry about
going to little old jail
to free my poor people
who's been
catching all hell
for 400 years.
Gentlemen, let's
take the vote. John?
I uphold his conviction.
Free the man.
Oh, let's free the man,
for God's sake.
I'm with Bill and Bill.
Go free.
I vote to uphold.
That's decided.
As the senior Justice
on the majority side,
to write the opinion
I assign...
5 to 3 against Ali. Yes!
John Harlan's been
assigned the opinion.
Come on, boys,
let's go to lunch.
We can drown
our sorrows.
You're welcome
to join us. Yeah.
I recommended to a fellow
trustee at the Smithsonian
that unemployed blacks
be trained
to work as gardeners
at the Mall.
I think they'd
be wonderful.
They have such
a lovely sense of color.
Cutty Sark, please.
Sam, James.
Thank you, sir.
Didn't he just
get married again?
That won't
stop him.
Never does.
Well... gloomy Guses all.
Just bring
the whiskey, please.
I'm sorry you're
retiring, John.
I'm going to miss you
on the Court.
Oh, you'll
get by, Warren.
Won't be the same. You've
been a good friend to me.
I can always
depend on you.
Yeah, well, you're very good
at looking after yourself.
You'll find new friends.
Big fight ahead of us.
Roe v. Wade.
Sir, your table is
just being prepared.
Thank you, Jacques.
With you gone,
I'll probably
write that opinion myself,
or maybe I'll give it
to Harry Blackmun.
please follow me.
Go ahead, John.
Well, let's not
get despondent.
We have Roe v. Wade
coming up.
It's got all
the ingredients.
Sexism. Right-wing fanaticism.
Misogyny. Race.
It's a blockbuster,
boys. Ha ha ha!
One, Ali is sincere
in his objections.
Two, his position as
a Minister of Islam
gives him the
appropriate credentials
for religious training
and belief.
But, three,
we are not convinced
that he is conscientiously
opposed to all wars.
Therefore, he does not qualify
for conscientious
objector status.
Therefore, by a majority
of 5 votes to 3,
his conviction is upheld.
Kevin, I want you
to write the opinion.
Uh, no thank you, sir.
No thank you. Wait,
are you recusing yourself?
Uh, no, sir. I
- I don't want to be difficult,
but if it doesn't matter to you,
I wonder if I could switch with another.
I'd take any case.
Nelson, McGautha-
That's fine with me, sir.
I'm happy to take Ali.
No, I'd like Kevin
to write this,
and I want the opinion
on my desk
first thing tomorrow
morning, please.
We need to close this case.
That's all.
Why? Why won't they accept him
as a conscientious objector?
He's a properly ordained
minister of the Nation of Islam.
His religion says he's
not supposed to fight.
What is the problem?
Why are we sending him to jail?
There's got to be some
precedent, some case-
Please, shut up.
I'm trying to finish
something here.
I'd like to go home.
What time is it?
I found it.
Kevin, will you
go home?
Get some sleep. Harlan's not gonna flip.
It's Sicurella.
Hang on, wait, wait.
The Jehovah's Witness case?
Yeah. 1955.
The Jehovah's Witnesses
were granted conscientious
objector status.
They don't have
to go to Vietnam.
Yeah? So?
Well, this is what
the Jehovah's Witnesses say.
If God commanded it,
they would fight.
And these are the words
from Ali's own statement:
"But the Quran do teach us
"we do not take part
in any war...
unless declared
by Allah himself. "
I mean, it's clear as day.
Ali, a Black Muslim,
a follower of
Elijah Muhammad,
is saying exactly
what the Jehovah's
Witnesses are saying.
He would only go to war
if his god commanded it.
His god. Allah.
Now, that's
not gonna happen.
That's the same as
the Jehovah's Witnesses.
How can Harlan
not buy that?
That's actually not bad.
Harlan is always
hammering us about
law, reason, precedent.
Well, Sicurella
is the precedent.
And how can he make a reasoned
distinction between
The Black Muslims
and the Jehovah's Witnesses?
He can't.
Ali is just the same
as the Jehovah's Witnesses,
effectively opposed
to all wars.
Yeah. But you're still
gonna have to find a way
to convince him to take
the Black Muslims
and their religious views
and how those views
relate to war seriously.
One more thing.
However you write it up,
don't give him any reason
to find a political agenda.
Otherwise, you're sunk.
You all right?
You all right, mate?
Primo Maui Wowee.
Oh, thank you. I got a
lot of work to do tonight.
Me, too.
Good night.
Good night is right.
Mrs. Paige?
Mr. Connolly, the Justice
would like to see you.
Good luck.
When he's finished
with you,
don't come crying
to us.
I gave clear direction
didn't I?
Yes, sir, you did.
I gave you detailed notes
on what was said by
the Justices in conference.
I referred you
to the precedents.
You're familiar
with the argument.
You know the outcome
of the vote.
But sir, the case
will not write.
The vote was
5 to 3.
But I can't get that
result in the writing, sir.
I can't
get that result
because there's
something else
that needs
to be addressed.
Mr. Connolly!
Citizens cannot
pick and choose
which war
they wish to fight
any more than they
can pick and choose
which laws
they wish to obey.
But sir, Ali for all
intense and purposes
is opposed to all wars.
It's right there in the
book in black and white.
No ambiguity. I've
marked it up for you, sir.
I tell you what I do.
When a case is over,
I pull the plug,
clear my head...
and make room
for the next one.
All right.
I give up.
I give up.
And I'll write it
your way, sir.
Is the Justice
in his office?
He's in
the basement, sir.
It's movie day.
Movie day?
Can I help you,
Mr. Justice?
Oh, I'm
just wondering
why 9 men, mostly
in their seventies,
should make judgments about sexuality.
I'm with you there, sir.
I couldn't agree more.
If I want to go to
a pornographic movie,
then I should
pay my money.
In my view, nothing
should be banned.
Hear, hear!
I've redone
my brief on Ali.
The Justice
is expecting it.
Good boy.
Oh, baby! I want to
make you feel better.
That's it.
I don't know what it is,
but I know it
when I see it.
Is that two males
and one female?
I can't quite
make it out.
It's 3 girls, John.
Oh, by Jove.
Are they...
Are they... is that
what I think it is?
Well, that's remarkable.
Of course, I know a lot of
people are wondering about this.
How about
the draft situation?
Oh, you mean the army.
Yeah, I mean...
They're cleaning out my
cell to take me to jail
'cause it's
better there fed
than in Vietnam dead.
Night, chaps.
Night, sir.
Sam, I realize that
Passover is approaching
during the holidays.
Please feel free
to leave the office
before sundown
if you wish.
Thank you, sir.
Oh, thank you, Paul.
Usual time
tomorrow, please.
Yes, sir.
Oh, my!
Where do you think
you're going, huh?
It's very late,
you know.
And very chilly.
Come on.
Let's go home.
Hiya, Johnny boy.
How you doing?
I have a little love note
for you this afternoon.
Ah. Ha.
Morning, sir.
Morning, gentlemen.
Could you ask Kevin Connolly
to come in, please?
Uh, sit down.
Sir, I wanted
to try and explain.
Sit down.
Sir, when you hired me,
boy, I was just
over the moon.
And it's... it's an honor
and a privilege
to work
in your chambers,
but I'm starting
to feel like,
like I don't belong
here and...
Take this down, please.
You ready?
Uh... yes, sir.
Case 7-8-3,
Clay, a. k. a. Ali,
versus United States.
Dear Chief.
My original conference vote
was to affirm.
It is on that basis,
of course,
that you assigned
the opinion to me.
Subsequent work
on such an opinion
has brought me
serious misgivings.
I now understand
that Black Muslims
oppose all wars
on religious grounds.
You flipped.
Sir, are you
- are you changing your vote?
Ahem. Last night,
I took another look
at your
original briefing.
I read through
the Elijah Muhammad book
and yes, I'm changing
my vote.
Sir, there's
really no need
for you to read this.
I've-I've changed
my mind.
You've changed mine.
And I salute you.
All right.
Let's press on.
The religious doctrine
of Islam states,
"Our refusal
to go armed
is our proof
that we want peace. "
Sir! Sir.
Uh, "Elijah Muhammad
goes on.
"We felt that
we had no right
"to take part
in a war alongside
of Islam
"who have always denied us
justice and equal rights.
"We believe that we who
have declared ourselves
"to be
righteous Muslims
"should not participate
in any wars
which take the lives
of others. "
"In my opinion,
this passage proves
"that Black Muslims
are legitimately opposed
"to all wars
on religious grounds.
"And I am now convinced
the conviction
should be reversed. "
My God!
The vote's a tie.
John Harlan has
become an apologist
for the Black Muslims.
John Harlan is
one of the few people
who could convince me
that there is such a thing
as a good Republican.
Ah, Chief.
you have betrayed me.
These are your last
days on the court.
What on Earth
has taken hold of you?
It's Bill Brennan,
isn't it?
He's the one who's
been twisting your arm.
Twisting my arm?
Don't you
patronize me, John.
Oh, come on in, Warren, and sit
down, for God's sake. Come on.
Sit, sit.
Don't think
I'm not sensitive
to how you judge me
sometimes, John.
Now, come on, Warren.
Now you're making it
a little too personal.
No, I'm not.
I count on you,
I depend on you.
As my colleague,
as my friend.
We have
the same values.
We're both working hard
toward a united Court.
Yes, well,
it occurs to me that
sometimes we,
we're inclined
to slide around
the issues
when we wish to achieve
certain results.
That's the way
it's done, John.
I am the Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court
of the United States.
It's my role.
I think it's time
we left
politics to Congress,
don't you?
You're being so naive.
Apart from this place,
do you have any sense
of what goes on
in the real world?
I know exactly what
goes on in the real world.
All the more reason
to protect
the independence
of the court.
So naive.
John, I don't understand
why you're doing this.
Why? You're
just about to retire.
Because this Court
is a continuing body.
It acknowledges
the Constitution,
the problems
of the day,
and tries to reconcile
the two,
and by God
I respect that!
Oh, please.
The vote is tied,
4 to 4,
and it's not as if it's
going to
change anything.
And I can assure you
that I am not
going to shift
my position,
and no one on the Court
will either.
How the hell
can you be so sure?
It's wilful, John.
Do you hear me?
It's wilful.
And what's the result?
You're not going
to get another vote.
Ali will still
go to jail.
You've accomplished
Ooh! Ooh.
all right, sir?
Mm. Yes.
Uh, get me
Potter Stewart, will you?
Right away, sir.
Petrus, the position
I've taken on the Ali case
has absolutely nothing to do
with his being a Negro.
I hope you understand that.
Yes, sir.
It's about the law.
Mrs. Paige.
Um, it's about
the Justice.
What about
the Justice?
Is he sick?
I mean, I know he has
back problems, but
is it something
more serious than that?
He has cancer,
Mr. Connolly.
He's a very
private man.
I would ask you
to respect that.
Yes, ma'am.
Well, we are 4.
Thurgood has
recused himself.
Where is our fifth
coming from?
Chaps, it's not enough
to get the fifth vote.
In this case, the Court
will have to be perceived
as having one voice.
The vote
must be unanimous.
the government?
Jesus, John. The last time around,
you were trying to get
us to back the Chief.
In this situation, I think
we have to really dig deep.
Find a reason to overturn.
A reason that the others
would come aboard.
You know what this Chief
is going to say.
If the court
frees Ali,
every black American
will join
the Nation of Islam
so he doesn't have to go
and fight in Vietnam.
Now, that's what
he's going to say.
Well, got to find
a reason to reverse
without setting
a precedent.
You don't
change the law.
You make the ruling
specific to the Ali case.
Well, whatever trick
we come up with,
it's got to come from
a Republican appointee.
Me or Bill...
they'll mangle us.
You OK, Harry?
I know you're
all concerned about
what you perceive as
my indecisiveness.
You think I can't
make up my mind.
It's not that.
It really isn't.
It's that the issues
in this case are so grave.
You answer one question,
even tentatively.
You think you're safe
and then
two more questions
appear on the horizon.
As I see it, I can't
make a final judgment
until all the facts
are in,
until all the arguments
have been analyzed.
But it's not
a math problem, Harry.
You want to find out
one answer.
It doesn't
work that way.
Here he is.
You're up.
You must be feeling
pleased with yourself.
Leave it
alone, Becker.
You crossed the line, Connolly.
Ask anybody,
no matter whose
side they're on.
John Harlan is one of the most respected
Justices in Supreme
Court history.
Chief Burger humiliating him like that
in front of
they heard that all the
way over on Capitol Hill.
He didn't humiliate him.
He just changed his mind
and then he
stood his ground.
You know he's not
thinking straight.
Harlan did
the right thing.
It's Justice Harlan
to you, prick.
When you go home
at night,
did you
tell your wife
how you took advantage of a dying man?
You know what?
I've wanted to
punch you in the mouth
since I met you.
Put them up.
You're kidding me.
I'm not kidding.
Put them up.
Wow. Now, I'm not gonna tell you again.
You're making
a mistake here.
In college, I boxed
in the Golden-
Get off him!
Hey, break it up!
I've been troubled
by the government's case
against Ali since
the very beginning.
That's why I voted to hear
the case in the first place.
Now, last night, my guys
and I, we took a look...
What is there
to look at?
There are 3 conditions
that determine
the status of
a conscientious objector.
The Appeals Board
ruled that Ali
did not meet any of them.
But the Appeals Board
was not specific, Chief.
It did not say which
conditions it rejected.
What's your point?
Griswold challenged Ali
on only one condition.
He conceded the other two.
In fact, he said that
he found Ali to be sincere
and that his objections
were religiously based.
So, how do we know
that the one condition
that Griswold singled out
was the same one
that the Appeal Board
used to hang Ali out to dry?
We don't.
The Appeal Board said nothing.
They gave no reasons.
It's an error of the law.
We have no choice
but to overturn.
I know what
you're doing, Potter.
You're trying to hang this
on a technicality.
Yes, a technicality,
Chief, exactly.
That way we can
avoid a precedent
and we can make the ruling
specific to the Ali case.
This is
absolute nonsense.
If we do what
you're suggesting,
then a man who refuses
to fight for his country
on dubious grounds
will still go free.
His belief's a matter
of conscience, Warren.
Protected by
the First Amendment.
Byron, Hugo,
Potter, and John
are all military men,
and so are you, Bill.
Do you know
what this means?
Yes. Yes, it means there'll
be no more soldiers
left to fight
Nixon's dirty war.
one way to end it.
Ha ha ha!
Well, guys, we're
losing focus here.
We're not ruling
on the war,
we don't want
to set a precedent,
we're making this case
specific to Ali.
Byron, you don't agree
with this, surely.
Well, Chief,
I have to say, uh...
I think Potter's
on to something here.
As long as
there's no precedent.
Harry, it looks as if
you and I are outnumbered.
I've explored this thoroughly,
Chief. I really have.
I looked
at the arguments,
I listened to what everybody had to say,
and I'm gonna vote
with the majority.
I believe that the
judgment should be reversed
and Ali
should be set free.
Well. It seems
as if I am isolated.
Ah, look here.
The Constitution
says quite simply
that you cannot favor
one religion over another.
Now, how can you make
a legal distinction
between Jehovah's Witnesses
and Black Muslims?
The only difference-
Black Muslims are black.
And that's why
they went after Ali.
And if that's not a racist
and political conviction,
I don't know what is.
If this court
sends Ali to jail,
it is in effect
saying there's
one law for whites
and one law for blacks.
If you dissent, Chief,
it might be interpreted
as a racist vote.
You know,
you once said to me
that it was essential
for both the Court
and the nation
that everyone
comes on board.
Your words, Chief,
and you were right.
Nobody wants
a divided court.
The opinion
is fine, Warren.
Please, let it go.
Well, I suppose
an 8-0 decision
would be a good lift
for the black people.
Chaps, come on, chaps...
I know it's
a tad early,
but it's never too early
for a good old hoot.
Rebel Yell.
Does that appeal to you?
First time
for everything, sir.
It's my favorite.
My favorite.
What happened
to you?
War wounds, sir.
What? Oh, my God.
Contrary to his usual form,
Muhammad Ali seemed subdued
as he arrived at the south side
gym for a workout.
A Black Muslim, he thanked
Allah and the Court
for his good fortune
and told them how
he got the news.
I was on 79th street
on the south side
and just bought my orange
in a grocery store
and the grocery owner
came out and grabbed me,
and hugged me
with tears in his eyes.
Little black fella, and told me
that you've just been vindicated
and you free,
8 judges all voted
in your favor,
and he just hugged me
and squeezed me
and he was this short...
I'm on my way,
Mrs. Paige.
Good night, sir.
Good night.
When the Supreme Court
eventually decided
that you were right and you
had a perfect right to do this,
you showed no resentment
against the men
who had kept you
away from boxing.
You were very
quiet about it.
Then I would be
a hypocrite if I did
because I expected
them to recognize
me for what I believed.
And they did what they thought
was right at the time.
They took my title.
At the time,
they wouldn't let me box
nowhere in the country.
They just did what
they thought was right.
And for me to now to sue them,
or to condemn them,
or to speak out against them
for doing what
they thought was right,
then this would be hypocritical.
So, how can I get
on them for doing
what they really
believed was right?
Kevin Connolly,
And you remember
my wife Donna.
Hello, chaps.
Sweet of you
to come.
Of course.
And this is our daughter. Louise.
Oh, how wonderful.
a sneaky right hand.
Another sneaky right hand.
This time he works over
the shoulder of Foreman...
3, 4, 5, 6... 8...
That's it.
The fight is stopped.
Muhammad Ali is the winner.
He's done it.
Muhammad Ali has done it.
The great man has done it.
I shook up the world,
I shook up the world,
I shook up the world!
This is
the most joyous scene
ever seen in
the history of boxing.
This is an incredible scene.
The place is going wild.
Muhammad Ali has won;
Muhammad Ali has won
by a knockout, by a knockout!