1950 September 17

HUAC Calls National Lawyers Guild the “Legal Bulwark of the Communist Party”


The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) issued a report on this day declaring the National Lawyers Guild the “legal bulwark” of the Communist Party. The Lawyers Guild was a left-liberal professional association of lawyers, established on February 20, 1937, as a progressive alternative to the American Bar Association. It took cases related to political dissidents, the rights of labor unions, and racial justice. It was not itself a Communist or even Communist-dominated organization, however.

The HUAC attack on the Lawyers Guild was one of several during the Cold War. On August, 27, 1953, Attorney General Herbert Brownell denounced the Guild and directed that it be listed in the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations (published on December 4, 1947). The Guild fought back, and the Justice Department finally abandoned its effort to have it listed on September 11, 1958.

The attacks on the Lawyers Guild represented the guilt-by-association tactics of the anti-Communist movement, in which any association with left-wing organizations was taken as evidence of “Communist sympathies.” The Cold War attacks greatly weakened the Guild, and thereby made it more difficult for people and organizations on the left to obtain needed legal assistance.

Learn more: Ann Fagan Ginger and Eugene Tobin, eds., The National Lawyers Guild: From Roosevelt Through Reagan (1988)

Learn more about HUAChttp://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/huac

Read: Kenneth O’Reilly, Hoover and the un-Americans: The FBI, HUAC, and the Red Menace (1983)

Learn more about the ACLU in the Cold War and other Times of National Crisis: https://www.aclu.org/aclu-history-rooting-out-subversives-paranoia-and-patriotism-mccarthy-era

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!