Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Bowman on the Jenner Bill

Winston Bowman, Associate Historian, Federal Judicial Center, continues the FJC’s Spotlight on Judicial History series with a post on “The Jenner Bill”:

In 1956 and 1957, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a series of opinions vindicating the constitutional rights of American communists. Coming near the end of a sustained period of anxiety over the supposed influence of communist “subversives” in American political and cultural affairs, these rulings proved controversial. Perhaps the most forceful response to the decisions came in the form of legislation proposed by Indiana Senator William Jenner in 1957. The “Jenner Bill,” sometimes known as the “Jenner-Butler Bill,” would have revoked the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction over five classes of cases involving the civil and criminal interdiction of subversive political activities. Although the bill ultimately failed, it provoked widespread discussion over the authority and independence of the Supreme Court and the balance of power between branches of government. [More.]
–Dan Ernst