Hatch Act Law & Legal Definition


Hatch Act of 1939 is a piece of United States federal legislation which prohibits federal employees, employees of the District of Columbia and certain employees of state and local governments from engaging in partisan political activity. The Act was named after Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico who protested the political involvement of federal employees in primaries and general elections. In 1993, the Act was substantially amended. The 1993 amendments, 5 U.S.C.S. 7321-7326, clarified the rights of federal employees to a great extent. The Act bars only the misuse of official authority or influence, and misuse of work place and official duties. The Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993 permit most federal employees to take an active part in partisan political management and partisan political campaigns.

Hatch Act applies to employees of state or local governments whose principal employment is in connection with an activity which is financed in whole or in part by federal funds. Employees of the following agencies (or agency components), or in the following categories, are subject to more extensive restrictions on their political activities than employees in other Departments and agencies:

  • Administrative law Judges
  • Central Imagery Office
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Contract Appeals Boards
  • Criminal Division
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Elections Commission
  • Merit Systems Protection Board
  • National Security Agency
  • National Security Council
  • Office of Criminal Investigation (Internal Revenue Service)
  • Office of Investigative Programs (Customs Service)
  • Office of Law Enforcement (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms)
  • Office of Special Counsel
  • Secret Service
  • Senior Executive Service