The Shadow of McCarthyism

Much of Michael Tigar’s student activism took place on the heels of the McCarthy era. He was a harsh critic of McCarthyism and its ongoing effects. Fond of satire, Tigar wrote a radio script in 1960, “The Appearance of William Shakespeare Before the House Committee on Un-English Activities” and a magazine piece in 1962 entitled “A Cable Karl to the Top o’ the Marx”.

In an interview conducted in the 1990s, Tigar highlighted his longtime interest in “the leap that the government wants to take in so many cases, a leap across this line between dissent and disloyalty.” At the beginning of his law career, Tigar became intimately acquainted with this leap when he found himself accused of such disloyalty, in part due to his student activities and writing, which led to him being followed by the FBI.

In 1966, Justice William J. Brennan Jr. hired Tigar to serve as his law clerk at the United States Supreme Court for the term following his graduation. Justice Brennan rescinded the offer at the last minute, however, after pressure from J. Edgar Hoover and a campaign by columnists and lawmakers on the right, who painted Tigar as part of a “communistic infiltration” of the Supreme Court.

Several of the documents included here are essays that demonstrate Tigar’s incredulity toward America’s fascination with, and fear of, communism. Where many saw a foreign threat, Tigar perceived infringements of civil liberties.

The section also includes news clippings and correspondence related to the Brennan clerkship withdrawal. Tigar received many letters of support at the time of the incident. Decades later, Justice Brennan wrote Tigar a letter about the affair, expressing that he may have “overreacted.”

31 archive items found.

Preview Type Title Year
Newspaper Articles Representative Tuck on Brennan Clerkship in the Congressional Record

Correspondence Letter from Ellis Harmon About Brennan Clerkship

Correspondence Letter from Ken Cloke About Brennan Clerkship

1966
Correspondence Letter About Brennan Clerkship from Theodore Olson

1966
Magazine Articles Article About Brennan Clerkship by Andrew Kopkind

Correspondence Letters Exchanged Between Zev Putterman and Harve Bennett About Brennan Clerkship

1966
Magazine Articles The Most Skillful Liberal

2011
Correspondence Letter From Jim Perry About Brennan Clerkship

Correspondence Letter from Jeanette Hermes About Brennan Episode

1966
Correspondence Letter from Professor John McNulty About Brennan Episode

1966
Correspondence Letter from Frank Wells About Brennan Episode

1966
Correspondence Letter from Jim Roberts About Brennan Episode

1966
Correspondence Letter About Brennan Affair from Bob and Lee

1966
Correspondence Letter from John Fossam About the Brennan Affair

1966
Correspondence Letter About Declined UPenn Job Offer After Brennan Clerkship Rescinded

1966
Correspondence Letter About Brennan Affair on Blue Paper

1966
Correspondence Letter Related to Brennan Affair from Al Katz

1966
Correspondence Letter from David E. Pesonen About Brennan Clerkship

1966
Correspondence Letter About Brennan Episode from Robert H. Cole

1966
Newspaper Articles Washington Post Profile of Michael Tigar by Lois Romano

1997
Correspondence Letter from Justice Brennan About Clerkship

1990
A Part of a Freedom of Information Act Production

1969
Correspondence Letter About Brennan Clerkship from Michael Tigar

1966
Correspondence A Note About the Brennan Clerkship

1966
Book Review The Great Fear, 15 Harvard Civil Liberties

1980
Essays A Letter from the Author of the Kennedy Book, and Tigar’s Reply

1972
Book Review Review of Kennedy Justice, The New York Review of Books

1972
Journal Articles A Cable Karl to the Top o’ the Marx

1962
Essays Atomic Science & Social Responsibility

1961
Magazine Articles One Year Later – Reflections on Black Friday

1961
Radio Scripts The Appearance of William Shakespeare Before the House Committee on Un-English Activities

1960