Industrial saboteurs, reputed thieves, communists, and the freedom of association

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The idea of a constitutional freedom of association was embraced by the U.S. Supreme Court in the mid-twentieth century as implicit in the First Amendment. Although initially endorsed by the Court as a fundamental freedom that was necessarily entwined with the freedom of speech when confronted with cases in the 1930s and 1940s of local government officials cracking down on speakers and assemblies discussing strikes and labor unions, the justices were far more divided and skeptical of freedom of association claims in cases from the mid-1940s through the early 1960s when state and national government officials were pursuing a variety of anticommunist measures. This article examines the early jurisprudential development of the constitutional freedom of association and its grounding in the First Amendment, and suggests some of the limits that the notion always carried with it. Politics and jurisprudence combined to limit its applicability in the anticommunism cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-91
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Philosophy and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • General Social Sciences


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