Bick v. Mitchell Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 


Case Description 

Bick v. Mitchell is a lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Women Strike for Peace and the Communist Party, among others, that asked that Title II of the McCarran Act – which provided for detention in concentration camps of persons who will probably engage in sabotage or espionage during war or insurrection – be declared unconstitutional.

In 1968, the House Un-American Committee issued a report recommending that “mixed Communist and Black nationalist elements” be placed in detention centers throughout the country should a “national emergency” occur. They also proposed that the government maintain a “security index,” listing those who should be interned.

All federal agencies steadfastly denied the existence of such a list. However, in 1975, it was revealed that the nonexistent list contained more than 15,000 names at the time the suit was filed. By 1971, the list had been reduced to under 2,000 names, which were not destroyed, but placed on a “reserve index.”