How Would They Ever Learn Better? The Sedition Act, the McCarran Internal Security Act, and Congressional Failure
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Type of Work20 pages
Citation of Original PublicationKeohane, J. (2008). How Would They Ever Learn Better? The Sedition Act, The McCarran Internal Security Act, and Congressional Failure. Northwestern Interdisciplinary Law Review, volume 1, 217-236.
The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 created a United States very intolerant of dissent. This article argues that Congress should have taken to heart the lessons of the Alien and Sedition Acts when enacting legislation like the McCarran Internal Security Act during the Cold War. It was largely congressional failure coupled with extensive investigation and application that led to the rampant repression of the Cold War era. However, evaluating the actions of Congress in a vacuum is counter productive, and it is important to note that the during the Cold War, the judiciary served to temper some of the harm done by Congressional legislation. This article concludes, however, that the Cold War was the more dangerous period for free speech because the results could have easily been predicted and prevented by recognizing the lessons of the 1798 Sedition Act.