In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act of 1954. The law explicitly outlaws the Communist Party of the United States. It also criminalizes membership in the party or support of the party in any way. The act also further criminalized anyone who supported communist organizations or actions in any way.
The law was intended to be incredibly broad to make it a bit easier to prosecute people who were supporting such organizations. Because anti-communism sentiment faded at the end of the Cold War, this law is not discussed nearly as often as it once was, but it is still on the books today.
The Communist Control Act of 1954 was created and passed during a time known as the Red Scare in the United States. The Red Scare refers to a time when a lot of people were very nervous that their friends, family members, and neighbors could secretly be communists or could be communist spies. The goal was to prevent the influence of international espionage that was being undertaken by international communists.
Many people opposed communism on the principle that it was the main form of government in the USSR, and many people believed that the goal of Communism was to undermine democracy. Therefore, democracy and communism could not both exist, and the Communist Control Act of 1954 was passed.
In the 1950s, the Cold War was at one of its peaks. There were a lot of people who were scared about the prospect of nuclear war, and many people were in agreement that communism was a threat to democracy everywhere.
On the other hand, there are some people who opposed the Communist Control Act of 1954. J. Edgar Hoover opposed the Communist Control Act of 1954. He hunted communists effectively, but he was vehemently opposed to the Communist Control Act of 1954 because he was afraid that it would force the communist movement in the United States underground. Therefore, it would be much harder for him to track their movements.
Law reviews at the time also felt the act was rushed and politically charged. As a result, the Michigan Law Review and the Yale Law Journal both said the law’s wording was vague and unclear. This would make it both hard to enforce and potentially unconstitutional.
Even though this law is still on the books, there is a communist party in the United States today. It is incredibly small and it has next to no influence, so the political system in the United States has decided not to prosecute members.
Furthermore, there are some court cases that have been reviewed during the past few decades that have decided that it would be illegal to keep the communist party off the ballot. Even though communist candidates have never won anything significant, there is technically a communist party in the United States. There has not been any discussion of repealing the Communist Control Act of 1954.