In the Mccarthy Era, what were the judicial system weaknesses that lead to the problem?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Part of the fundamental problem with the McCarthy hearings and their execution in a court of law was that there was little in way of presumption of innocence. The way that they were configured was that if one were called to the committee, either one was giving information, regardless of its value, or one was guilty of being a Communist.  Within this very notion, the idea of being a Communist, guilt was attached through presumptive notions and because of the fear linked to it.  This made the standard understanding of due process, fairness within the proceedings as well as the entire notion of presumption of innocence, a moot point.  As a result, the trials were moments of self- glorification for McCarthy, who did a very good job in wrangling up enough paranoia and fear to create a setting where any individual called up in front of the committee either named names or accepted the label of "Communist, " and thus were guilty.  From a legal standpoint, the "crime" of being a Communist was one where more circumstantial evidence was present than anything else, leading to more innuendo and hearsay, and creating the perception of guilt.  This undermines the fundamentals of American justice.  When Joseph Welch asks McCarthy, "Have you no decency," he might have been asking about the damage McCarthy did to the American conception of justice through his hearings.