Was Congress’s Violation of the First Amendment During the McCarthy Era Justified?

This Was Congress’s Violation of the First Amendment During the McCarthy Era Justified? lesson plan also includes:

“I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party. . .” Senator Joseph McCarthy certainly stirred the pot with his claims. The result was a series of legislative actions that put McCarthy in the spotlight and First Amendment rights in jeopardy.  Was Congress’s violation of the First Amendment during the McCarthy Era justified? To prepare to respond to this guiding question, class members examine a series of primary source documents including the First Amendment, the Smith Act, and Joseph McCarthy’s speech delivered February, 1950, in Wheeling, West Virginia. After group and full-class discussions, individuals craft an essay using evidence drawn from the documents to support their argument.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Pros

  • All primary and secondary source materials included in the packet
  • Included is a detailed background information sheet for teachers
  • Carefully scaffolded
Cons

  • Beware the typos
  • Poor visual quality of the cartoons
Common Core