Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Walter Gellhorn's Loyalty Board File

Walter Gellhorn (1974), UVA Law Library
In my last post, I mentioned the Oversize Personnel Security Investigation Case Files, inventory A1, entry 2, Records of the Office of Personnel Management (RG 478).  Here are some views of the Columbia law professor Walter Gellhorn from a file (box 683) compiled in connection with his possible appointment to the National War Labor Board  file in the 1940s.  One FBI informant described the great administrative law scholars as “a man of brilliant intellect but a men whose views are not in accord with the usual ideas of American Government” because he “desires to have every phase of human endeavor and activity regulated by the Government.”  Another said that Gellhorn thought “the Courts should not be permitted to review the decisions or findings of the various Government Boards of Agencies after they had made their decision in a particular case."  A neighbor in Englewood, NJ, described him as 35 years old, 180 pounds, with blonde hair, no visible scars, and an “air of conceit."

The rating examiner charged with assessing Gellhorn's loyalty for a possible appointment to the National War Labor Board concluded, "The information concerning the appointee’s loyalty to the United States is in a sense favorable and yet is disquieting.”  To be sure, the "ultra-liberal," Gellhorn was "fully loyal to the United States.” Still,
[t]he information is disquieting in that the appointee has clearly affiliated himself with numerous Communist front and Communist dominated groups; that he has used his professional ability to advise, aid and defend Communists and organizations known to be Communist saturated; and, in that it is inconceivable that an individual as intelligent and well -informed as this appointee must be ignorant of that fact that his affiliations were with Communist dominated groups and his activities were serving to aid the Communist cause.  The possibility of the appointee’s innocence in these matter diminished in proportion to the numerical rise in his memberships and capacities until such a possibility of innocence must be dismissed as unreasonable.