HUAC Chair Places Names of 39 Alleged Communists in Congressional Record
Rep. Martin Dies (D–Texas), chair of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), entered the names of 39 alleged Communists employed by the federal government into Congressional Record. As a result, Congress passed a law directing that they not be paid their salaries.
One whose name was on the list, Robert Morss Lovett, lost his job and then challenged his termination as unconstitutional. In United States v. Lovett case (June 3, 1946), the Supreme Court ruled that the denial of Lovett’s salary represented a Bill of Attainder, which is explicitly forbidden by the Constitution, and ordered that he be awarded back pay.
A Bill of Attainder is a law that provides punishment or denial of government benefits to a named person or family. It was widely abused in English history prior to the American Revolution, which is why the framers included a ban in the Constitution.
Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed.”
Learn more about the history of HUAC: Walter Goodman, The Committee: The Extraordinary Career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (1968)
Learn more about HUAC: http://www.history.com/topics/house-un-american-activities-committee
Read: Kenneth O’Reilly, Hoover and the un-Americans: The FBI, HUAC, and the Red Menace (1983)