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The Supreme Court and McCarthy-Era RepressionOne Hundred Decisions$
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Robert M. Lichtman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037009

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037009.001.0001

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Dennis, the Attorney General’s List, Loyalty Programs, Contempts, and More

Dennis, the Attorney General’s List, Loyalty Programs, Contempts, and More

(October Term 1950)

(p.37) 3 Dennis, the Attorney General’s List, Loyalty Programs, Contempts, and More
The Supreme Court and McCarthy-Era Repression

Robert M. Lichtman

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions during its October 1950 term. The flow of “Communist” cases quickened during the term, and the scope of the cases widened greatly. The Court continued to acquiesce in the government’s actions, but not entirely. By far the most important decision of the termwas Dennis v. United States, which reviewed the Smith Act convictions of the American Communist Party’s (CPUSA) top officials. The First Amendment issue in Douds was the validity of a “partial sanction” for CPUSA membership, not a direct penalty. In Dennis, a direct criminal sanction—prison—punished speech and association. The clear-and-present-danger test was held inapplicable in Douds; but in Dennis its application was seemingly mandated, unless the law was to be changed.

Keywords:   Communist cases, subversive organizations, U.S. Supreme Court, McCarthy era, Dennis v. United States, Smith Act, CPUSA, American Communist Party

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