'Have You No Sense Of Decency?' When Joseph Welch Owned Joe McCarthy in 1954

By Kellar Ellsworth
Joseph N. Welch, during the Army-McCarthy hearings. (Photo by Hank Walker/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

In 1954, Joseph Welch took on Senator Joseph McCarthy -- and won. With just a few clear words, Welch gave voice to growing anti-McCarthy sentiment. McCarthy, who'd risen to prominence with an anti-communist "witch hunt" that became known as McCarthyism, had trained his eye on the U.S. Army. In hearings known as the Army-McCarthy hearings, the Senator continued his usual scare-mongering, career-wrecking accusations, and Welch, the Army's chief legal representative, was fed up. "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" Welch asked. "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"