Control of Communism in the United States

February 11, 1948

Report Outline
Current Moves to Outlaw Communist Party
Existing Laws to Control Subversive Activity
Problems Raised by Restrictive Legislation
Alternatives to Outlawing Communist Party

Current Moves to Outlaw Communist Party

Pressure for New Laws to Combat Subversion

Congress is at present under heavy public pressure to outlaw the Communist party in the United States and to deny its candidates a place on the ballot in all federal, state and local elections. Such extreme action has been avoided in the past, despite the urgings of anti-Communist groups, because most members of Congress have felt that it would constitute a radical departure from American traditions of political toleration. But mounting anti-red sentiment has brought a revival of earlier proposals for restrictive legislation, and bills to outlaw the Communist party are now under active consideration by two committees of the House.

Despite almost universal distrust of Communists, there is still a sharp division of opinion on outlawing the Communist party. Two basic questions are involved: (1) Has Congress the power, under the Constitution, to outlaw a political party as such? (2) Assuming that such power exists, would outlawing the party be an effective means of combatting Communism? Strong opinions have been expressed on both sides of these questions.

Supporters of legislation to forbid political activity by Communists recommend it on the ground that the Communist party owes its primary allegiance to a foreign power and that the party has as one of its basic aims the wiping out of the very constitutional processes it claims a constitutional right to employ. Every government “has the right to defend itself against revolution,” and “it does not have to wait until the last minute to do so.”

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Aug. 19, 1949  Church and Communism
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Nov. 13, 1946  Communism in America
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Oct. 19, 1932  The Socialist Vote in 1932
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