Today in Legal History: Congress Probes Communism in Hollywood, October 20, 1947
“Are you now, or have you ever been, a Communist?” Joe McCarthy’s crusade to stamp out communism reached Hollywood when film industry members were called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to testify about communism in the movies. Ten writers and directors (later known as the Hollywood Ten) refused to testify on the ground that the hearings were illegal and violated their first amendment rights. Although several of the Hollywood Ten were able to continue working under pseudonyms, or through friends who would take credit, their ability to work was severely curtailed.
More information is available at:
• The Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, The Legal Struggle to Abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities: the Papers of Jeremiah Gutman, 4th Floor – KF4997.I48 M44
• Carl Beck, Contempt of Congress: a Study of the Prosecutions Initiated by the Committee on Un-American Activities, 1945-1957, 4th Floor – KF9405.B4 1974