The Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB) was a United States government committee to investigate Communist infiltration of American society during the 1950s Red Scare. It was the subject of a landmark United States Supreme Court decision of the Warren Court, Communist Party v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 351 U.S. 115 (1956), that would lead to later decisions that rendered the Board powerless.
It was organized on November 1, 1950, under authority provided in the McCarran Internal Security Act. The original 5 members of the panel were Seth W. Richardson of Washington, D.C., the Board's Chairman, along with Peter Campbell Brown of New York, Charles M. LaFollette of Indiana, David J. Coddaire of Massachusetts, and Dr. Kathryn McHale of Indiana. Mr. Brown later served as Chairman in 1952 and 1953.
The SACB was empowered to order the registration of organizations that it found to be "Communist fronts", "Communist action" groups or "Communist infiltrated" groups:
(e) It shall be the duty of the Board-
- (1) upon application made by the Attorney General under section 13(a) of this title, or by any organization under section 13(b) of this title, to determine whether any organization is a Communist-action organization within the meaning of paragraph (3) of section 3 of this title, or a Communist-front organization within the meaning of paragraph (4) of section 3 of this title; and
- (2) upon application made by the Attorney General under section 13(a) of this title, or by any individual under section 13(b) of this title, to determine whether any individual is a member of any Communist-action organization registered, or by final order of the Board required to be registered, under section 7(a) of this title.
In carrying out this mandate, the SACB was a leader in the U.S. government's response to the Red Scare. The SACB's proceedings were thorough and methodical. Hundreds of witnesses testified and were cross-examined by defense lawyers. The decisions and findings of the SACB were subject to judicial review.
In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed former Arkansas Governor Francis Cherry as SACB director. The appointment was continued by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Subversive Activities Control Board was sworn in today, and Chairman Seth W. Richardson reported that it was ready for business.