Former psychology instructor Lloyd Barenblatt, who had refused in June to answer certain question before the House Un-American Activities Committee, was one of eight previous witnesses indicted for contempt of Congress.  Convicted, he appealed, and his appeal went to the Supreme Court, which, in June 1959, upheld the conviction, five to four. Justices Black and Douglas and Chief Justice Warren filed a dissent, and Justice Brennan filed a separate, brief dissent.

Although Barenblatt’s Vassar four-year contract had expired at the time of his appearance before the committee, President Blanding strongly supported the former faculty member.