Doris Brin Walker, defender of civil rights, free speech, dies at 90

SAN FRANCISCO ― Doris Brin Walker, an attorney famous for her brilliant and tenacious defense of political activists including Angela Davis ― and earlier, Smith Act and other McCarthy-era political defendants ― died Aug. 13 following a stroke.

Having become a Marxist during her student years, Walker joined the Communist Party USA after being sworn in as a member of the California State Bar. She remained a party member for the rest of her life.

In her law practice, Walker focused on cases involving civil rights, free speech and during the Vietnam war, draft resistance.

Walker was elected the first woman president of the National Lawyers Guild in 1970, and served as vice president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers from 1970-1978.

A staunch opponent of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, she contributed commentary on San Francisco anti-war ballot measures before last November’s election.

A fuller appreciation of Doris Brin Walker’s life is forthcoming.