367 U.S. 1 (1961), Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board

Citation:367 U.S. 1, 81 S.Ct. 1357, 6 L.Ed.2d 625
Party Name:Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board
Case Date:June 05, 1961
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 1

367 U.S. 1 (1961)

81 S.Ct. 1357, 6 L.Ed.2d 625

Communist Party of the United States


Subversive Activities Control Board

United States Supreme Court

June 5, 1961




After very extensive hearings under the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, the Board, in 1953, found that the Communist Party of the United States was a "Communist action organization," within the meaning of the Act, and ordered it to register as such under § 7. A remand of the case by this Court, 351 U.S. 115, and a second remand by the Court of Appeals led to further proceedings before the Board, involving rulings on additional procedural points and two reconsiderations of the entire record, following which the Board adhered to its conclusion. After denial of motions made by the Party under § 14(a) and after review on the merits, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Board's order

Held: The judgment is affirmed. Pp. 4-115.

1. Certain procedural rulings made by the Board and the Court of Appeals do not constitute prejudicial errors requiring that this proceeding be remanded to the Board again. Pp. 22-35.

(a) A witness having been cross-examined at length following his direct testimony during the initial hearing, and the Board having stricken his testimony on two subjects about which recording of interviews with him were discovered and produced after remand of the case, it cannot be said on this record that the Board abused its discretion in refusing to strike all of his testimony because ill

Page 2

health prevented him from submitting to further cross-examination, when the Court of Appeals sustained the Board's ruling. Pp. 22-29.

(b) By failing to raise the question in its previous petition for certiorari in this Court, the Party abandoned its claim of error in the Board's denial of its motion to require production of certain memoranda prepared by a government witness, and the Party could not resurrect that claim by repeating the motion before the Board after this Court's remand of the case. Pp. 29-32.

(c) It cannot be said that the Court of Appeals abused its discretion in denying as untimely motions made by the Party under § 14(a) more than 5 years after termination of the initial hearings for orders requiring production of documents in connection with the testimony of government witnesses. Pp. 32-35.

2. The Board and the Court of Appeals did not err in their construction of the Act or in their application of it to the Party on this record. Pp. 35-69.

(a) In concluding that the Party was "substantially directed, dominated, or controlled" by the Soviet Union, within the meaning of § 3(3), the Board and the Court of Appeals did not err either in their construction of the Act or in finding that the facts shown by the record bring the Party within it. Pp. 36-55.

(b) In concluding that the Party "operates primarily to advance the objectives of [the] . . . world Communist movement" within the meaning of § 3(3), the Board and the Court of Appeals did not err either in their construction of the Act or in finding that the facts shown by this record bring the Party within it. Pp. 55-56.

(c) The Board did not misinterpret or misapply the requirement of § 13(e) that, in determining whether any organization is a Communist action organization, it shall "take into consideration" the "extent to which" such organization engages in certain classes of conduct specified therein; nor did it abuse its discretion in its rulings on the admissibility of evidence and objections to questions asked on cross-examination in this connection. Pp. 56-66.

(d) The action of the Court of Appeals in striking one subsidiary finding of the Board did not require another remand of the proceedings to the Board. Pp. 66-67.

(e) Though the Board's description of "the world Communist movement" to which its findings related the Party did not

Page 3

duplicate in all details the description contained in § 2 of the Act, it was the one meant by Congress. Pp. 68-69.

(f) The Board and the court below did not err in relying on evidence of the conduct in which the Party engaged prior to the enactment of the Act to support their conclusion that it is presently a Communist action organization. P. 69.

(g) The Court of Appeals having thrice examined the evidence adduced before the Board and having held that the Board's conclusions were supported by a preponderance of the evidence, this Court will not make an independent reappraisal of the evidence. P. 69.

3. Since the only action taken so far against the Party under the Act was to order it to register under § 7, and the consequences which will ensue when the order becomes final depend upon actions to be taken thereafter, the only constitutional issues now properly before this Court pertain to the constitutionality of the registration requirement, as applied in this proceeding. Issues raised as to the constitutionality of other provisions of the Act purporting to regulate or prohibit conduct of registered organizations and their members or otherwise affecting their rights were prematurely raised, and will not be considered at this time. Electric Bond & Share Co. v. Securities & Exchange Comm'n, 303 U.S. 419. Pp. 70-81.

4. Notwithstanding the possible consequences of registration, the registration requirements of § 7 do not constitute a bill of attainder within the meaning of Art. I, § 9, cl. 3 of the Constitution. Pp. 82-88.

5. The registration requirements of § 7 (including the listing of the names, aliases and addresses of the foreign-dominated organization's officers and members and the listing of all printing presses in the possession and control of the organization or its members), as here applied, do not constitute a restraint of freedom of expression and association in violation of the First Amendment. NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449; Bates v. Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516; Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479, distinguished. Pp. 88-105.

6. The claim that the provisions of § 7 requiring officers of the Party to sign and file registration statements for it subjects them to self-incrimination forbidden by the Fifth Amendment is raised prematurely, and will not be considered at this time. Pp. 105-110.

7. The Act does not offend the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment by predetermining legislatively facts upon which the

Page 4

application of the registration requirements to the Communist Party depends. Pp. 110-115.

107 U.S. App.D.C. 279, 277 F.2d 78, affirmed.

FRANKFURTER, J., lead opinion

MR JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a proceeding pursuant to § 14(a) of the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1,950 to review an order of the Subversive Activities Control Board requiring the Communist Party of the United States to register as a Communist action organization under § 7 of the Act. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has affirmed the Board's registration order. Because important questions of construction and constitutionality of the statute were raised by the Party's petition for certiorari, we brought the case here. 361 U.S. 951.

The Subversive Activities Control Act is Title I of the Internal Security Act of 1950, 64 Stat. 987, 50 U.S.C. 781 et seq. It has been amended, principally by the Communist Control Act of 1954, 68 Stat. 775, and certain of its provisions have been carried forward in sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act adopted in 1952, 66 Stat. 163, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182, 1251, 1424, 1451. A brief outline of its structure, in pertinent part, will frame the issues for decision

Page 5

Section 2 of the Act recites legislative findings based upon evidence adduced before various congressional committees. The first of these is:

There exists a world Communist movement which, in its origins, its development, and its present practice, is a worldwide revolutionary movement whose purpose it is, by treachery, deceit, infiltration into other groups (governmental and otherwise), espionage, sabotage, terrorism, and any other means deemed necessary, to establish a Communist totalitarian dictatorship in the countries throughout the world through the medium of a worldwide Communist organization.

The characteristics of a "totalitarian dictatorship," as set forth in subsections (2) and (3), are the existence of a single, dictatorial political party substantially identified with the government of the country in which it exists, the suppression of all opposition to the party in power, the subordination of the rights of the individual to the state, and the denial of fundamental rights and liberties characteristic of a representative form of government. Subsection (4) finds that the direction and control of the "world Communist movement" is vested in and exercised by the Communist dictatorship of a foreign country, and subsection [81 S.Ct. 1364] (5), that the Communist dictatorship of this foreign country, in furthering the purposes of the world Communist movement, establishes and utilizes in various countries action organizations which are not free and independent organizations, but are sections of a worldwide Communist organization and are controlled, directed, and subject to the discipline of the Communist dictatorship of the same foreign country. Subsection (6) sets forth that

The Communist action organizations so established and utilized in various countries, acting under such control, direction, and discipline, endeavor to

Page 6

carry out the objectives of the world Communist movement by bringing about the overthrow of existing governments by any available means, including force if necessary, and setting up Communist totalitarian dictatorships which will be subservient to the most powerful existing Communist totalitarian dictatorship. Although such organizations usually designate themselves as...

To continue reading