• Last updated on November 11, 2022

This Supreme Court case is one of the last in which conservative justices were able to sustain a conviction of some Communist Party members for just belonging in an alleged subversive organization.

By a 5-4 vote, the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, over dissents of the more liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justices Hugo L. Black, William J. Brennan, Jr., and William O. Douglas, upheld a conviction of an “active” member of the Communist Party. In his opinion for the Court, Justice John M. HarlanHarlan, John M., II;Scales v. United States[Scales v. United States] II distinguished the case from Noto v. United States[case]Noto v. United States[Noto v. United States] (1961). In Noto, the Court did not find that Noto’s membership was sufficient to justify conviction. However, in Scales, the Court found that Scales’s participation in party activities justified conviction. The dissenters pointed out there was no evidence of advocacy for the immediate overthrow of the government or evidence of an immediate threat in Scales’s activities.CommunismAssembly and association, freedom of;Scales v. United States[Scales v. United States]Subversion;Scales v. United States[Scales v. United States]Communism

Aptheker v. Secretary of State

Assembly and association, freedom of

Bad tendency test

Clear and present danger test

Communist Party v. Subversive Activities Control Board

Dennis v. United States

Noto v. United States


Yates v. United States

Categories: History