360 U.S. 72 (1959), 34, Uphaus v. Wyman

Docket Nº:No. 34
Citation:360 U.S. 72, 79 S.Ct. 1040, 3 L.Ed.2d 1090
Party Name:Uphaus v. Wyman
Case Date:June 08, 1959
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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360 U.S. 72 (1959)

79 S.Ct. 1040, 3 L.Ed.2d 1090

Uphaus

v.

Wyman

No. 34

United States Supreme Court

June 8, 1959

Argued November 17-18, 1958

APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

Syllabus

In an investigation conducted by the Attorney General of New Hampshire on behalf of the State Legislature under a resolution directing him to investigate violations of the State Subversive Activities Act and to determine whether "subversive persons" were then in the State, appellant, who is Executive Director of a corporation organized under the laws of the State and operating a summer camp in the State, testified concerning his own activities, but refused to comply with subpoenas duces tecum calling for the production of the names of all persons who attended the camp during 1954 and 1955. Pursuant to state procedure, he was brought before a state court. There, he did not plead the privilege against self-incrimination, but claimed that the investigation was beyond the power of the State, that the resolution was too vague, that the documents sought were not relevant to the inquiry, and that to compel him to produce them would violate his rights of free speech and association. These claims were decided against him, and, persisting in his refusal, he was adjudged guilty of civil contempt and ordered committed to jail until he complied with the order.

Held: the judgment and sentence are sustained. Pp. 73-82.

(a) The New Hampshire Subversive Activities Act of 1951 and the resolution authorizing and directing the State Attorney General to investigate violations thereof have not been superseded by the Smith Act, as amended. Pennsylvania v. Nelson, 350 U.S. 497, distinguished. Pp. 76-77.

(b) The right of the State to require the production of corporate papers of a state-chartered corporation to determine whether corporate activities violate state policy stands unimpaired either by the Smith Act or by Pennsylvania v. Nelson, supra. P. 77.

(c) On the record in this case, the nexus between the corporation, its summer camp and subversive activities which might threaten the security of the State justifies the investigation; the State's interests in self-preservation outweigh individual rights in associational privacy, and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not preclude the State from compelling

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production of the names of the guests. Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, distinguished. Pp. 77-81.

(d) Since the demand for the documents was legitimate one, the judgment of contempt for refusal to produce them is valid, and the sentence of imprisonment until appellant produces them does not constitute such cruel and unusual punishment as to be denial of due process. Pp. 81-82.

101 N.H. 139, 136 A.2d 221, affirmed.

CLARK, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case is here again on appeal from a judgment of civil contempt entered against appellant by the Merrimack [79 S.Ct. 1043] County Court and affirmed by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. It arises out of appellant's refusal to produce certain documents before a New Hampshire legislative investigating committee which was authorized and directed to determine, inter alia, whether there were subversive persons or organizations present in the State of New Hampshire. Upon the first appeal from the New Hampshire court, 100 N.H. 436, 130 A.2d 278, we vacated the judgment, 355 U.S. 16, and remanded the case to it for consideration in the light of Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957). That court reaffirmed its former decision, 101 N.H. 139, 136 A.2d 221, deeming Sweezy not to control the issues in the instant case. For

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reasons which will appear, we agree with the Supreme Court of New Hampshire.

As in Sweezy, the Attorney General of New Hampshire, who had been constituted a one-man legislative investigating committee by Joint Resolution of the Legislature,1 was conducting a probe of subversive activities in the State. In the course of his investigation, the Attorney General called appellant, Executive Director of World Fellowship, Inc., a voluntary corporation organized under the laws of New Hampshire and maintaining a summer camp in the State. Appellant testified concerning his own activities, but refused to comply with two subpoenas duces tecum which called for the production of certain corporate records for the years 1954 and 1955. The information sought consisted of: (1) a list of the names of all the camp's nonprofessional employees for those two summer seasons; (2) the correspondence which appellant had carried on with and concerning those persons who came to the camp as speakers; and (3) the names of all persons who attended the camp during the same periods of time. Met with appellant's refusal, the Attorney General, in accordance with state procedure, N.H.Rev.Stat.Ann., c. 491, §§ 19, 20, petitioned the Merrimack County Court to call appellant before it and require compliance with the subpoenas.

In court, appellant again refused to produce the information. He claimed that by the Smith Act,2 as construed

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by this Court in Pennsylvania v. Nelson, 350 U.S. 497 (1956), Congress had so completely occupied the field of subversive activities that the States were without power to investigate in that area. Additionally, he contended that the Due Process Clause precluded enforcement of the subpoenas, first, because the resolution under which the Attorney General was authorized to operate was vague and, second, because the documents sought were not relevant to the inquiry. Finally, appellant argued that enforcement would violate his rights of free speech and association.

The Merrimack County Court sustained appellant's objection to the production of the names of the nonprofessional employees. The Attorney General took no appeal from that ruling, and it is not before us. Appellant's objections to the production of the names of the camp's guests were overruled, and he was ordered to produce them. Upon his refusal, he was adjudged in contempt of court and ordered committed to jail until he should have complied with the court order. On the demand for the correspondence and the objection thereto, the trial court made no ruling, but transferred the question to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. That court affirmed the trial court's action in regard to the [79 S.Ct. 1044] guest list. Concerning the requested production of the correspondence, the Supreme Court entered no order, but directed that on remand the trial court

may exercise its discretion with respect to the entry of an order to enforce the command of the subpoena for the production of correspondence.

100 N.H. at 448, 130 A.2d at 287. No remand having yet been effected, the trial court has not acted upon this phase of the case, and there is no final judgment requiring the appellant to produce the letters. We therefore do not treat with that question. 28 U.S.C. § 1257. See Radio Station WOW v. Johnson, 326 U.S. 120, 123-124 (1945). We now pass to a consideration of the sole

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question before us, namely, the validity of the order of contempt for refusal to produce the list of guests at World Fellowship, Inc., during the summer seasons of 1954 and 1955. In addition to the arguments appellant made to the trial court, he urges here that the "indefinite sentence" imposed upon him constitutes such cruel and unusual punishment as to be a denial of due process.

Appellant vigorously contends that the New Hampshire Subversive Activities Act of 19513 and the resolution creating the committee have been superseded by the Smith Act, as amended.4 In support of this position appellant cites Pennsylvania v. Nelson, supra. The argument is that Nelson, which involved a prosecution under a state sedition law, held that "Congress has intended to occupy the field of sedition." This rule of decision, it is contended, should embrace legislative investigations made pursuant to an effort by the Legislature to inform itself of the presence of subversives within the State and possibly to enact laws in the subversive field. The appellant's argument sweeps too broad. In Nelson itself, we said that the

precise holding of the court . . . is that the Smith Act . . . , which prohibits the knowing advocacy of the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force and violence, supersedes the enforceability of the Pennsylvania Sedition Act, which proscribes the same conduct.

(Italics supplied.) 350 U.S. at 499. The basis of Nelson thus rejects the notion that it stripped the States of the right to protect themselves. All the opinion proscribed was a race between federal and state prosecutors to the courthouse door. The opinion made clear that a State could proceed with prosecutions for sedition against the State itself; that it can legitimately investigate in this area follows a fortiori. In Sweezy v. New Hampshire, supra, where the same contention was made

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as to the identical state Act, it was denied sub silentio. Nor did our opinion in Nelson hold that the Smith Act had proscribed state activity in protection of itself either from actual or threatened "sabotage or attempted violence of all kinds." In footnote 8 of the opinion, it is pointed out that the State had full power to deal with internal civil disturbances. Thus, registration Statutes, quo warranto proceedings as to subversive corporations, the subversive instigation of riots, and a host of other subjects directly affecting state security furnish grist for the State's legislative mill. Moreover, the right of the State to require the production of corporate papers of a state-chartered corporation in an...

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