• Last updated on November 11, 2022

At the height of the Cold War, the Supreme Court upheld the portions of the Taft-Hartley Act (1947) that required labor union leaders to sign an affidavit affirming that they were not presently members of the Communist Party.

The Communications union, which had a record of some Communist Party infiltration, charged that the registration provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 violated the freedoms provided by the First Amendment. Speaking for a 5-1 majority, Chief Justice Fred M. VinsonVinson, Fred M.;American Communications Association v. Douds[American Communications Association v. Douds] interpreted the law as an attempt to prevent disruptive strikes in interstate commerce, a legitimate interest of Congress. Using an ad hoc balancing approach, Vinson made a distinction between freedom of speech, protected by the First Amendment, and political association, a form of action that deserved less protection than the communication of ideas.First Amendment balancingTaft-Hartley ActSpeech, freedom of;American Communications Association v. Douds[American Communications Association v. Douds]Assembly, freedom of;American Communications Association v. Douds[American Communications Association v. Douds]Interstate commerce;American Communications Association v. Douds[American Communications Association v. Douds]Taft-Hartley Act

Douds may be contrasted with United States v. Brown[case]Brown, United States v.[Brown, United States v.] (1965), in which the Supreme Court struck down a more restrictive law that prohibited people from serving as labor leaders if they had been affiliated with the CommunistCommunism Party during the previous five years.

Clear and present danger test

Cold War

Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education

First Amendment

Labor

Speech and press, freedom of

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