Subversive Activities Control Board

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The internal security act of 1950 created the Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB). This agency was to determine, on request of the attorney general, whether a particular organization was a communist-action, communist-front, or communist-infiltrated organization. After SACB had issued an order so designating an organization and after the order had been sustained by the courts, various disabilities and sanctions could be imposed on the group and its members. These included being barred from federal jobs, being denied employment in defense-related industries, and being prohibited from using United States passports.

Eleven years after SACB's creation, the Supreme Court sustained its findings that the Communist party was a communist-action organization as defined by the act and upheld an order requiring the party to register. (See communist party v. sacb, 1961.) The Court subsequently declared unconstitutional attempts to implement the sanctions of the act, and in 1965 (albertson v. sacb) it ruled that the forced registration of individual members of the party would violate the right against self-incrimination. By the late 1960s, SACB was moribund. Congress, attempting salvage, gave it authority to register with the attorney general the names of persons it had determined were members of communist organizations, and SACB eventually declared seven persons to be in this category. Such limited action, as well as a 1967 decision holding unconstitutional provisions barring members of registered organizations from jobs in defense-related industries, further limited SACB's utility. In 1974, the richard m. nixon administration, bowing to SACB's critics, requested no further funding, effectively ending its life.

Paul L. Murphy


Murphy, Paul L. 1972 The Constitution in Crisis Times, 1918–1969. New York: Harper & Row.