During a period of hostility to civil liberties, the Supreme Court issued a ruling regarding a list of allegedly subversive organizations that favored freedom of association.
In March, 1948, President Harry S Truman issued an executive order creating a list of subversive organizations. Seventy-eight allegedly subversive organizations were placed in six classifications on the attorney general’s list. The organizations were placed on the list without a hearing and were not given the opportunity to appeal or ask for a judicial review. Three groups, including the Joint Anti- Fascist Refugee Committee, objected to being declared unpatriotic, which caused them to be severely criticized in various public and private settings. Although lower courts found for the federal government, the Supreme Court, by a 5-3 vote, determined that the government had violated the constitutional rights of these groups. The Court found that the manner in which various groups had been placed on the attorney general’s list of subversive organizations violated their constitutional rights. The five justices in the majority wrote separate opinions, thereby weakening the impact of the majority holding. Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson and Justices Sherman Minton and Stanley F. Reed dissented. Justice Tom C. Clark did not participate.
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