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Hoax Alert

Fake News: McCarran Warner Act of 1952 Did NOT Forbid Muslims From Holding Office

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Fri, 08 Feb 2019 15:38:43 Z)

Did the 101st Congress on November 18, 1990 quietly repeal the "McCarran Warner Act of 1952" forbidding muslims from holding office? No, that's not true for the simple reason that there never was such an act. Also, forbidding muslims from holding office would go against Article VI, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution which reads (in part): "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States"

The claim went viral via a Facebook post on January 27, 2019:

The text in the post read:

On November 18, 1990 the 101st Congress QUIETLY repealed the McCarran Warner Act of 1952 forbidding "muslims" from holding office; members of that congress were Dick Cheney, John McCain, Joe Biden, Al Gore, John Kerry, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi......see the agenda?

Screenshot of https://www.facebook.com/carol.vasquez.370/posts/2446764492013901

There are several things to unpack in that statement:

  • There never was a "McCarran Warner Act of 1952"
  • There is a "McCarran-Walter Act", also known as the "Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952". It didn't say muslims couldn't hold office (it doesn't even contain the words "muslim" or "islam"). You can download the entire text here and search for it.
  • On November 18, 1990 when the non-existent act with the muslim office ban was supposedly repealed Dick Cheney wasn't in Congress anymore as he had been appointed as Secretary of Defense in 1989.
  • Congress did get rid of the "McCarran-Walter Act" on that day:


With a whimper, not a bang, the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act is gone. In one of its last acts, the 101st Congress repealed this embarrassing remnant of the McCarthy era, a law that permitted the exclusion and expulsion of immigrants with politically "incorrect" beliefs and associations.

The McCarran-Walter Act did have several provisions affecting immigrants and aliens advocating certain ideas, beliefs and having certain associations (terrorism, communism...) but it did not have rules banning U.S. citizens that happened to be muslim from holding office.

About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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