Patrick McCarran

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Patrick A. “Pat” McCarran
Pat McCarran (Nevada).jpg
Former U.S. Senator from Nevada
From: March 4, 1933 – September 28, 1954
Predecessor Tasker Oddie
Successor Ernest S. Brown
Former Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court
From: January 2, 1917 – January 4, 1919
Predecessor Frank Herbert Norcross
Successor Benjamin Wilson Coleman
Former Associate Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court
From: January 2, 1913 – January 1, 1917
Predecessor James G. Sweeney
Successor Edward Augustus Ducker
Former Member of the Nevada Assembly from Washoe County
From: 1903–1905
Predecessor Phil Jacobs, G. E. Peckham, W. W. Webster
Successor Walter Hastings, A. W. Holmes, E. R. Dodge, R. H. Kinney, J. W. Wright, J. S. Orr
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Harriet Martha Weeks
Religion Roman Catholic

Patrick Anthony “Pat” McCarran (August 8, 1876 – September 28, 1954) was a farmer, judge, and attorney from Nevada who served as the state's U.S. Senator for two decades up until his death. A Democrat, he previously served in the state's Supreme Court, being an Associate Justice and then the Chief Justice.

Early life and education

McCarran was born to Margaret Shay and Patrick McCarran, Sr. in 1976 in Reno, Nevada. The son of Irish immigrants, he graduated as the valedictorian from Reno High School and proceeded to attend Nevada State University.

U.S. Senate

1926 election

McCarran unsuccessfully sought a U.S. Senate seat in the 1926 elections, running against one-term Republican incumbent Tasker Oddie. He lost in the Democrat primary to Raymond T. Baker, garnering only 29% of the vote.[1] Baker would go on to lose to Oddie in the general election by over ten percentage points.[2]

1932 election

McCarran ran for Senate in again 1932 against Sen. Oddie, with the state Democratic Party allowing him to be nominated and believing that he would lose in the general election. McCarran, however, proved them to be erroneous by winning the general election in an upset, narrowly defeating Oddie by four percentage points[3] in an election cycle one of the most favorable for Democrats in U.S. history following blame cast on President Herbert Hoover and the Republicans over the Great Depression.


While initially backing some of Roosevelt's liberal New Deal that benefited labor unions, McCarran later began to break from the president. He opposed FDR's deeply unpopular court packing scheme after hearing from constituents in his state. HE was accused of anti-Semitism for harsh questions to Felix Frankfurter during the latter's confirmation hearings.[4][5] He opposed the Second New Deal as being too left-wing.

McCarran's record on civil rights is somewhat mixed; while he supported Truman's Army desegregation, he also appointed staunch segregationist/white supremacist James Eastland, a fellow friend in the Senate, to chair the Senate subcommittee on civil rights despite being warned against the decision.[6]


See also: Attorney General's List

McCarran was an ardent anti-Communist along with Republican Joseph McCarthy; as chair of the United States Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security, known as the McCarran Committee, which focused on national security against espionage and sabotage attempts. He was the sponsor of the McCarran Act that required communist organizations in the U.S. to register with the Attorney General established guidelines for investigating those suspected of subversive activities. McCarran was a strong supporter of McCarthy who would have adamantly opposed the censure against the Wisconsin senator and convinced fellow Democrats to join him, but died less than a few months later at the age of 78 before the vote.

Immigration control

Along with Pennsylvania congressman Francis Walter, McCarran was a lead sponsor of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 which repealed racially based restrictions for immigration to the US, toughened standards for naturalization, and made deportations of illegal aliens easier.[6] Despite being vetoed by Harry Truman, both Houses of Congress voted to override the president's decision and pass the bill. However, it was replaced in 1965 by the Hart-Celler Act, which raised the quota cap.

Accuations of anti-Semitism

The Smith Act of 1940, passed by a New Deal Congress and signed into law by President Roosevelt, made it illegal to advocate the overthrow of the United State government, which was the principal aim of the Communist party. Many Jews who fought against Hitler were also communists.

In the wake of the Berlin Airlift, the theft of atomic secrets by liberal New Dealers working for Soviet intelligence, the fall of America's Chinese ally in the war against Japan to the Chinese Communists, and the outbreak of the Korean war, McCarron sponsored legislation that required communist front organizations to register with the Subversive Activities Control Board. The McCarran Act additionally barred immigrant members of communist organizations from citizenship for 5 years. The law had the effect of inhibiting many Holocaust survivors from entering the United States.


McCarran has a statue named after and depicting him in Washington, D.C., which as added to the U.S. Capitol in 1960.[7] Politically correct liberal Democrats from Nevada have called for removing the statue over the senator's legacy of racism/anti-Semitism.[8]

The Democrat Clark County Commissioner in 2017 pushed to rename the McCarran International Airport after Harry Reid.[8]

See also


  1. NV US Senate - D Primary - Sep 07, 1926. Our Campaigns. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  2. NV US Senate - Nov 02, 1926. Our Campaigns. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  3. NV US Senate - Nov 08, 1932. Our Campaigns. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  4. Omsted, Kathryn S. (January 16, 2005). The real witch hunter of the 1950s. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  5. Halper, Thomas (May 30, 2018). Felix Frankfurter and the Law. Sciendo. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Pat McCarran. Nevada Trivia. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  7. Komenda, Ed (June 29, 2020). 5 Nevada Democrats want McCarran statue out of U.S. Capitol. Reno Gazette Journal. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Sadler, John (June 19, 2020). Lawmakers want Sen. McCarran statue removed over racist legacy. Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 28, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Biography at