326 U.S. 135 (1945), 788, Bridges v. Wixon

Docket NºNo. 788
Citation326 U.S. 135, 65 S.Ct. 1443, 89 L.Ed. 2103
Party NameBridges v. Wixon
Case DateJune 18, 1945
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 135

326 U.S. 135 (1945)

65 S.Ct. 1443, 89 L.Ed. 2103




No. 788

United States Supreme Court

June 18, 1945

Argued April 2, 3, 1945




1. The order for the deportation of the petitioner -- issued under the Act of June 28, 1940, providing for the deportation of any alien who was at the time of his entry into the United States, or has been at any time thereafter, a member of or affiliated with an organization that believes in, advises, advocates, or teaches the overthrow of this Government by force or violence -- rests upon a misconstruction of the term "affiliation" as used in the Act, and upon an unfair hearing on the question of his membership in the Communist Party, wherefore

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his detention under the warrant of deportation is unlawful. Pp. 140, 156.

2. The act or acts tending to prove "affiliation" within the meaning of the deportation statute must be of that quality which indicates an adherence to or a furtherance of the purposes or objectives of the proscribed organization, as distinguished from mere cooperation with it in lawful activities. The act or acts must evidence a working alliance to bring the program to fruition. P. 143.

3. Freedom of speech and of the press is accorded aliens residing in this country. P. 148.

4. So far as the record shows the literature published by the petitioner, the utterances made by him were entitled to the protection of the freedom of speech and of the press. They revealed a militant advocacy of the cause of trade unionism, but did not teach or advocate or advise the subversive conduct condemned by the statute. P. 148.

5. Detention under an invalid order of deportation is established where an alien is ordered deported for reasons not specified by Congress. P. 149.

6. Upon the record in this case, the finding of "affiliation" was based on too loose a meaning of that term. P. 149.

7. A person under investigation with a view to deportation is legally entitled to insist upon the observance of rules promulgated pursuant to law by the agency entrusted with the power to deport. P. 153.

8. Objection to evidence on the ground that it violates the governing regulations is timely where made before both the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Attorney General, though not at the hearing before the inspector. P. 151.

9. Since it was error to admit into evidence against the petitioner certain unsworn statements in violation of Rules 150.1(c) and 150.6(i) of the Regulations of the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- construed as meaning (1) that an investigating officer, in obtaining a "recorded statement," must obtain the statement by interrogation under oath, and seek to obtain it over the signature of the maker, and (2) that only such a "recorded statement," so safeguarded, may be used as evidence when the maker of the statement gives contradictory evidence on the stand -- since the statements in question were so crucial to the findings of membership, and since that issue was so close, this Court is unable to say that the order of deportation may be sustained without them. Pp. 151, 156.

10. In habeas corpus proceedings challenging the legality of detention upon a warrant of deportation, the petitioner does not prove he had

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an unfair hearing merely by proving the decision to be wrong or by showing that incompetent evidence was admitted or considered; but the case is different where evidence as improperly received and where, but for that evidence, it is wholly speculative whether the requisite finding would have been made. P. 156.

144 F.2d 927, reversed.

Certiorari, 323 U.S. 708, to review the affirmance of a judgment denying a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Harry Bridges is an alien who entered this country from Australia in 1920. In 1938, deportation proceedings were instituted against him on the ground that he both had been and then was a member of or affiliated with the Communist Party of the United States, and that that party advised and taught the overthrow by force of the government

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of the United States and caused printed matter to be circulated which advocated that course. Under the statute then in force, past membership or past affiliation was insufficient for deportation, present membership or present affiliation being required. Kessler v. Strecker, 307 U.S. 22. A hearing was had. The examiner, Hon. James M. Landis, concluded that the evidence established neither that Harry Bridges "is a member of nor affiliated with" the Communist Party of the United States. The Secretary of Labor sustained the examiner and dismissed the proceedings. That was in January, 1940. By the Act of June 28, 1940, Congress amended the statute so as to provide for deportation of any lien who was "at the time of entering the United States, or has been at any time thereafter" a member of or affiliated with an organization of the character attributed to the Communist Party in the first proceeding.1 A second deportation proceeding was instituted

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against Harry Bridges under the amended statute on the ground that he had been a member of or affiliated [65 S.Ct. 1446] with that organization.2 Another hearing was had. The inspector designated to conduct the hearings and make a report, Hon. Charles B. Sears, found that the Communist Party of the United States was an organization of the character described in the statute, that the Marine Workers Industrial Union was affiliated with the Communist Party and was an organization of the same character, and that, after entering this country, Harry Bridges had been affiliated with both organizations, and had been a member of the Communist party. He recommended deportation. The case was heard by the Board of Immigration Appeals,3 which found that Harry Bridges had not been

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a member of or affiliated with either of those organizations at any time after he entered this country. The Attorney General reviewed the decision of the Board and rendered an opinion in which he made findings in accordance with those proposed by the inspector and ordered Harry Bridges to be deported. A warrant of deportation was issued. Harry Bridges surrendered himself to the custody of respondent and challenged the legality of his detention by a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the District Court for the Northern District of California. That court denied the petition and remanded petitioner to the custody of respondent. 49 F.Supp. 292. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed by a divided vote. 144 F.2d 927, 944. The case is here on a petition for a writ of certiorari which we granted because of the serious character of the questions which are presented.

As we have said, Harry Bridges came here from Australia in 1920. He has not returned to Australia since that time. He was a longshoreman. In 1933, he became active in trade union work on the waterfront in San Francisco. The Attorney General found that he had "done much to improve the conditions that existed among the longshoremen." He reorganized and headed up the International

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Longshoremen's Association, an American Federation of Labor union. He led the maritime workers' strike on the Pacific Coast in 1934. He was president of the local International Longshoremen's Association from 1934 to 1936, and was Pacific Coast president in 1936. In 1937, his union broke with the American Federation of Labor, changed its name to International Longshoremen and Warehousemen's Union, and became affiliated with the Committee for Industrial Organization. Bridges was elected Pacific Coast District President of that union, and has held the office ever since. He also holds several important offices in the CIO.

The two grounds on which the deportation order rests -- that Harry Bridges at one time had been both "affiliated" with the Communist party and a member of it -- present different questions, with which we deal separately.

Affiliation. The statute defines affiliation as follows:

For the purpose of this section: (1) the giving, loaning, or promising of money or anything of value to be used for the advising, advocacy, or teaching of any doctrine above enumerated shall constitute the advising, advocacy, or teaching of such doctrine, and (2) the giving, loaning or promising of money or anything of value to any organization, association, society, or group of the character above described shall constitute affiliation therewith; but nothing in this paragraph shall be taken as an exclusive definition of advising, advocacy, teaching, or affiliation.

41 Stat. 1009, 8 U.S.C. § 137(f). The doctrine referred to is the overthrow of the government by force or violence.4 The organizations or groups referred to are those which advise and teach that doctrine or which write, circulate, display, and the like, or have in their possession for such purpose, any written or printed matter of that character.

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In ruling on the question whether an alien had been "affiliated" with the Communist party, and therefore could be deported, the court in United States v. Reimer, 79 F.2d 315, 317, said that such an affiliation was not proved

unless the alien is shown to have so conducted himself that he has brought about a status of mutual recognition that he may be relied on to cooperate with the Communist Party on a fairly permanent basis. He must be more than merely in sympathy with its aims or even willing to aid it in a casual intermittent way. Affiliation includes an element of dependability upon which the organization can rely which, though not equivalent to membership duty, does rest upon a course of conduct that could not be abruptly ended without giving at least reasonable cause for the charge of a breach of good faith.

The same idea was expressed by Dean...

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