Hatch Act

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Hatch Act

Hatch Act 53 Stat. 1147 (1939); 54 Stat. 767 (1940)

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, the Hatch Act prohibits most federal employees from engaging in any of a broad range of partisan political activities. It was adopted in 1939, but its antecedents go back well into the nineteenth century. The act has twice been challenged.

Hatch Act of 1933

The Hatch Act is designed to prevent Federal government employees from engaging in certain political activities, such as influencing elections and running for office as a member of a political party. The Act also applies to state and local government employees who work in programs financed with Federal loans or grants, and to nonprofit organizations that are part of the Head Start program or that receive Community Service Block Grants.

For a discussion of the Hatch Act, see the Political Activity section of the U.S. Office of Special Council web site. The site also explains how to file a Hatch Act complaint andhow to request an Advisory Opinion as to whether the Act applies in a particular situation.

Statutes: The bulk of the Hatch Act is codified at 5 U.S.C. §§7321-7326, covering Federal employees. State and local employees are addressed at 5 U.S.C. §§ 1501-1508. The Hatch Act is made applicable for Head Start programs at 42 U.S.C. § 9851(a) and for organizations receiving Community Service Block Grants at 42 USC 9918(b).

Regulations: Hatch Act regulations are codified at 5 CFR §§ 733-734.”

Cases: You can find cases using print or electronic editions of the annotated United States Code (see “United States Code”). You could also pull the Shepard’s report or KeyCite for the Code sections of interest (see Shepardizing).

Merit Systems Protection Board: The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) decides whether the Hatch Act has been violated. MSPB posts a searchable database of decisions, or you can search through all the available MSPB materials at once.

MSPB decisions are available on Lexis from 1979 to the present (LABOR;MSPB). The database includes both decisions of the Board and decisions of MSPA Administrative Law Judges (ALJs).

Westlaw has several MSPA databases, including: the “Personet MSPA Multibase” (PNET-MSPB), with both Board decisions and MSPA-related judicial opinions for cases appealed from the MSPA; the “Merit System Protection Board” database (FLB-MSPB), with Board and ALJ decisions; and the MSPA Court Cases database (MSPB-CS), with just opinions from appealed cases.

Office of Special Counsel: The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) prosecutes Hatch Act cases before the MSPB. As mentioned above, the OSC posts information about the Hatch Act, including how to file a Hatch Act complaint. More information is available in the Hatch Act section of the OSC’s online Reading Room.

The OSC issues formal and informal Advisory Opinions. Selected Advisory Opinionsare available on the OSC web site. As mentioned above, the OSC web site explainshow to request an Advisory Opinion by phone or in writing.

See Also

Code of Federal Regulations
United States Code

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