1940 September 22

California Removes Communist Party From the Ballot


California on this day enacted a law that barred from the ballot any political party that had the word “Communist or any derivative” in its official name. Governor Culbert Olson was expected to sign the law. The California law was part of a nationwide effort to keep the Communist Party and other radical left-wing parties off the ballot in 1940. See, for example, the protests against this movement by the ACLU, on July 31, 1940, and by the National Lawyers Guild on September 11, 1940.

It is widely believed that the anti-communist Cold War began in the late 1940s, following World War II. In fact, however, the anti-communist movement was very strong in the pre-war years, from about 1935 to 1941. It was interrupted by World War II because the Soviet Union was an essential ally in the war against Hitler.

Learn more about the Cold War: Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)

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