Wednesday, 23 September 2020

public law 81-831

Also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 or the Concentration Camp Law, the McCarran Internal Security Act, namesake of its principal champion the senator from Nevada, was enacted by congress on this day seventy years ago—overriding a veto by President Truman. In addition to requiring Communist and fascist organisations register with the Attorney General’s office and the already established Subversive Activities Control Board with the broad powers to restrict movement and revoke citizenship of members, it also provided for the emergency detention of dangerous or disloyal persons were there is reasonable cause to believe that such persons will probably engage in—or conspire with others to engage in—espionage or sabotage.

In 1965, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled to invalidate the requirement for political party affiliates to register with the Department of Justice and the ban on card-carrying Communist party members from obtaining a passport and traveling outside the US, with the board abolished in 1972, following Nixon’s Non-Detention Act of the previous year (passed due to overwhelming public pressure, see also), repealing most of aspects of the law. The clauses of the Internal Security Act (its official title) that remain in effect are cited, invoked by the US military as a means of access control for instalations.