Attorney General's List

views updated


President harry s. truman's Executive Order 9835 inaugurated a comprehensive investigation of all federal employees and made any negative information a potential basis for a security dismissal. A list of subversive organizations was to be prepared by the attorney general, and membership in any listed group was a ground for reasonable doubt as to an employee's loyalty. The only guidelines the order provided were that any designated organization must be "totalitarian, Fascist, Communist, or subversive," or one "approving the commission of acts of force or violence to deny to others their constitutional rights." During the first year under the order, the attorney general so designated 123 organizations. Over time, and frequently as a result of protests, certain organizations were deleted; new ones were also added. By November 1950, 197 organizations had been so listed, eleven of which were labeled subversive, twelve as seeking to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means, and 132 as communist or communist front.

Critics questioned the constitutionality of the list's compilation and use, on first amendment grounds, as an "executive bill of attainder " and as involving unfair procedures violating the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Supreme Court in joint anti-fascist refugee committee v. mcgrath (1951) raised serious questions regarding the fairness of the compilation procedure, and demands grew for suitable hearings to be granted organizations before their inclusion. No procedural changes were instituted in the Truman years, however, and the list continued to be used under the Eisenhower loyalty program.

(See loyaltysecurity programs.)

Paul L. Murphy


Bontecou, Eleanor 1953 The Federal Loyalty-Security Program. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

About this article

Attorney General's List

Updated About content Print Article