McCarran Internal Security Act

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McCarran Internal Security Act

Legislation proposed by Senator Patrick Anthony McCarran and enacted by Congress in 1950 that subjected alleged members of designated Communist-action organizations to regulation by the federal government.

The McCarran Internal Security Act, also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 (50 U.S.C.A. § 781 et seq.), was part of a legislative package that was designated as the Internal Security Act of 1950. Congress passed such statutes in response to the post-World War II Cold War during which many public officials perceived a threat of violent and forcible over-throw of the U.S. government by U.S. Communist groups that advocated this objective. Among other things, the legislation required members of the Communist party to register with the attorney general, and the named organizations had to provide certain information, such as lists of their members. It established the Subversive Activities Control Board to determine which individuals and organizations had to comply with the law and the procedures to be followed. Failure to satisfy the statutory requirements subjected the individual or organization to criminal prosecution and stiff fines.

Congress repealed the registration requirements of the law in 1968 as a result of a number of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court that declared certain aspects of the law unconstitutional.



West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
John Burke, the first general secretary of the bishops' conference, and it has much information surrounding the 1950 struggle over the anti-immigrant McCarran Internal Security Act. That struggle evidenced one of the first times there was a split within the Catholic organizational world, with the bishops supporting the law and Catholic Charities opposing it.
Truman vetoed the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 with this observation: "In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have." To impose a "loyalty oath" and to criminalize professors who support actions against the government of Israel is to force compliance in thought and act, behavior more of a tyrannical state than a democratic one.
The McCarran Internal Security Act, passed against Truman's veto, meant that the State Department had to enforce a 50,000-name "lookout book" that was a political-speech test at the country's borders.
But the Justice Department was at the same time trying to get Communists to register under section 4(f) of the McCarran Internal Security Act. If mere membership in the CP was illegal under the membership clause of the Smith Act, clearly section 4(f) of the Internal Security Act would be unconstitutional since it would require Communists to incriminate themselves.