this committee puts to me about myself. [But] I will not . . . answer any questions with respect to others with whom I associated in the past. I do not believe that any law in this country requires me to testify about persons who may in the past have been Communist Party members or otherwise engaged in Communist Party activity but who to my best knowledge and belief have long since removed themselves from the Communist move- ment. (as cited in Walker, 1990, pp. 190–191) Yale Joel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Senator Joseph McCarthy is known for instigating the “Red Scare” after World War II, during which some of the most controversial congressional investigations took place.
CHAPTER 3 Section 3.2 Specific Legislative Powers Only Watkins was successful in persuading the Court that HUAC’s demands violated his constitutional rights. Watkins argued that the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment protected his right not to disclose information that was irrelevant to his own status to a congressional committee. A 6–1 majority held that HUAC had failed to place any limits on its own authority in the investigatory process. By failing to inform Watkins of the ques- tions he would be asked and by asking for information about other parties, Congress had violated Watkins’s constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment. HUAC’s actions, the Court held, amounted to little more than exposure for the sake of exposure. College professor Lloyd Barenblatt did not fare as well. HUAC came across Barenblatt’s name when a witness in a separate hearing implicated him for his Communist Party activ- ities while a graduate student at the University of Michigan. Barenblatt refused to answer questions after he was summoned to testify before HUAC, citing his rights under the First Amendment to freedom of association. By a 5–4 margin, the Court concluded that the First Amendment, unlike the Fifth Amendment in Watkins’s case, did not offer Barenblatt a defense against having to testify before HUAC. Wrote Justice John Harlan, Undeniably, the First Amendment in some circumstances protects an indi- vidual from being compelled to disclose his associational relationships. However, the protections of the First Amendment, unlike a proper claim of the privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, do not afford the witness the right to resist inquiry in all circumstances. ( Baren- blatt v. United States , 1959, p. 156) Moreover, the Court found that HUAC’s line of questioning was clearly defined and rel- evant to its legislative purpose. Although some constitutional scholars have questioned the consistency of the two decisions, especially because they were decided only two years apart, other scholars point to Barenblatt’s decision to rely on the First Amendment rather than the Fifth Amendment as the reason for the different outcomes.
- Summer '09
- The Land, United States Congress, legislative power