1956 June 26

“One Pro-Communist Decision After Another:” Right-Wingers Attack Supreme Court


Senators Joe McCarthy and James O. Eastland of Mississippi attacked the Supreme Court on this day for a series of pro-civil liberties decisions.  Specifically, they were incensed by the Court’s decision in Cole v. Young just two weeks earlier, on June 11, 1956. In that case, the Court ruled that Mr. Cole was improperly dismissed from his job with the federal government under the Federal Loyalty Program (see March 21, 1947), because his job did not involve a sensitive national security matters.

McCarthy was famous as the most reckless anti-Communist crusader in the 1950s. See the speech that launched his career on February 9, 1950 and gave the English language the word “McCarthyism.”

Eastland, a Democrat from Mississippi and a staunch segregationist, was particularly outraged by the Court’s famous school desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Education, on May 17, 1954. Chief Justice Earl Warren declined to comment on their attack. Actually, the Court moved into high gear the following year, on June 17, 1957, which became known as “Red Monday,” for a series of major decisions limiting anti-Communist measures.

Learn more about the Court and “Red Monday”: Arthur Sabin, In Calmer Times: The Supreme Court and Red Monday (1999)

Watch Senator McCarthy in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJHsur3HqcI

Learn more: David Oshinsky, A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy (1983)

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