Commentary Magazine

Senator Humphrey's Amendment

To the Editor:

I have read with considerable interest the article entitled “Cost of the Security Programs” by Maurice J. Goldbloom in the December 1955 issue. His documentation is excellent and I concur in most of his conclusions.

I regret that Mr. Goldbloom has failed to recognize the work of the Subcommittee on Government Reorganization, of which it was my privilege to serve as chairman. . . . This subcommittee that conducted extensive hearings into the government loyalty and security program . . . obtained passage of a bill to establish a special Commission on Government Security. That Commission . . . will review the entire structure and administration of the loyalty and security apparatus. . . .

I must . . . disagree with Mr. Goldbloom’s observation concerning the Communist Control Act of 1954. This is not the Dies-Humphrey Act, since Congressman Dies was not an author or co-sponsor of the Act. It is officially known as the Butler bill. However, the section relating to the Communist party was an amendment which I introduced during the debate on this particular measure. My amendment, in the nature of a substitute for the Butler bill, declared the Communist party to be an integral part of the international Communist movement and a conspiratorial force, rather than a normal political party. . . . This is no secret, nor is it a theory. It is a known fact to any fair-minded, objective person; it is a recognized fact in the decisions of our courts; and it is an accepted fact by every member of Congress. What the Humphrey amendment did, therefore, was to make a legislative finding and declaration as to the nature of the Communist party.

The second point of the Humphrey amendment was to assure anyone accused of membership in the Communist party of the protection of due process of law. In other words, the intent and purpose of my amendment or bill was to take this issue of Communism out of the Congressional committees and place it in the courts where the burden of proof rested upon the government and the presumption of innocence was with the accused. In short, the Humphrey proposal was an amendment to the Smith Act of 1940. . . .

Hubert H. Humphrey
U.S. Senate



Mr. Goldbloom writes:

In view of the limited scope of my article, it was impossible to discuss all the things I might have liked to, including the work of Senator Humphrey’s committee and those headed by Senators Johnston and Hennings. As to the Communist Control Act, I must still disagree with Senator Humphrey. The original bill of Senator Butler dealt only with Communist-infiltrated unions. The substitute introduced by Senator Humphrey—who later accepted the Butler bill as an amendment-provided criminal penalties for membership in the Communist party, as did a Dies-sponsored amendment passed by the House. One may call this assuring due process of law, since a criminal trial fits that description; the late Senator McCarran said that it “violates the conception of innocence until guilt is proven.” The criminal penalties were eliminated in conference under pressure from the administration, supported by McCarran.

Even in its final form, which Senator Humphrey called “not as strong a blow as Hubert Humphrey would like to have struck,” the act seemed to the American Civil Liberties Union to be an “unconstitutional and unwise contradiction of the guarantees of free speech and free association.” With this I agree—the more regretfully as I am in agreement with Senator Humphrey on most aspects of the security problem.



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