Eight professors at the University have joined 92 other authorities on constitutional law in petitioning the House of Representatives to abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Charging that the committee "serves no useful purpose" and is "irreconcilable with a system of free expression in this country," the professors have sent a petition to members of the new Congress urging them to refuse to continue HUAC as a standing committee when they convene in January.
The petition also asks that the committee's files be placed in the government archives and sealed for 50 years. "Self-respecting citizens of a democratic country," it asserts, "cannot allow their representatives in government to keep dossiers on their beliefs, ideas, political views, or associations."
Mark DeWolfe Howe '28, professor of Law, is listed as one of eight sponsors of the petition. Other faculty members who signed it are Clark Byse '34, professor of Law; David F. Cavers '20, Fessenden Professor of Law; Vern Countryman, professor of Law; John P. Dawson '17, Charles Stebbins Fairchild Professor of Law; Louis L. Jaffe, Byrne Professor of Administrative Law; Albert M. Sacks, professor of Law; and Oscar Handlin '18, Winthrop Professor of History.
The petition accuses HUAC of attempting to "create in the legislative branch a permanent institution....designed to serve as a bureaucratic Big Brother to censor the opinions and associations of American citizens."
"The result of these activities," it continues, "has been to curtail the discussion of controversial issues and to hinder the development of new ideas and new approaches to the troublesome questions which face us in this rapidly changing world."
In a telephone interview last night, Howe said that he was "extremely hopeful" that HUAC would be abolished. "The time has come," he said, "for Congress to face up to the question of whether the committee serves any useful purpose. If it ever had a function, that time has long since passed."