Knapp v. Schweitzer, No. 189

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFRANKFURTER
Citation2 L.Ed.2d 1393,357 U.S. 371,78 S.Ct. 1302
PartiesMilton KNAPP, Petitioner, v. Mitchell D. SCHWEITZER, Judge of the Court of General Sessions, and Frank S. Hogan, District Attorney of the County of New York
Decision Date30 June 1958
Docket NumberNo. 189

357 U.S. 371
78 S.Ct. 1302
2 L.Ed.2d 1393
Milton KNAPP, Petitioner,

v.

Mitchell D. SCHWEITZER, Judge of the Court of General Sessions, and Frank S. Hogan, District Attorney of the County of New York.

No. 189.
Argued March 6, 10, 1958.
Decided June 30, 1958.

Motion for Leave to File Petition for Rehearing Denied Oct. 13, 1958.

See 79 S.Ct. 12.

Page 372

Mr. Bernard H. Fitzpatrick, New York City, for petitioner.

Mr. Richard G. Denzer, New York City, for respondents

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner is a partner in a New York manufacturing firm engaged in interstate commerce, some of whose employees have been organized by a local union of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Petitioner was subpoenaed to appear before a New York grand jury conducting an inquiry regarding bribery of labor representatives, conspiracy and extortion, constituting crimes under state law. Petitioner, duly sworn, was asked a question concerning the union's representation in certain wage negotiations with petitioner's firm; he refused to answer on the ground that his answer might tend to incriminate him. The grand jury then granted petitioner immunity from prosecution, applying N.Y. Penal Law, McKinney's Consol.Laws, c. 40, §§ 381, 2447, which provides that one duly granted immunity

'shall not be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any transaction, matter or thing concerning which, in accordance with the order by competent authority, he gave answer or produced evidence, and that no such answer given or evidence produced shall be received against him upon any criminal proceeding.' § 2447(2).

Having been thus granted immunity, petitioner was directed to answer the question. He again refused to do so on the ground of possible self-incrimination.

In a subsequent appearance before the grand jury, petitioner was asked, and was directed to answer by the foreman, fourteen other questions concerning relations

Page 373

and transactions between petitioner and union officials. Petitioner again invoked the privilege against self-incrimination. On application of the foreman of the grand jury, respondent Schweitzer, as judge of a New York Court of General Sessions, ordered petitioner to return to the grand jury and make answer to the questions put to him.

After further refused to answer, petitioner was once more ordered to appear before respondent Schweitzer; when he did so, the respondent district attorney moved that petitioner be punished for contempt of court. In opposition to this application petitioner stood on his refusal to answer inasmuch as the immunity granted by the grand jury did not protect him against federal prosecution. Respondent Schweitzer adjudged petitioner in contempt of court and sentenced him to serve thirty days in jail and to pay a fine of $250. People v. Knapp, 4 Misc.2d 449, 157 N.Y.S.2d 820.

Petitioner applied to the Supreme Court of New York for reversal of the contempt conviction and for an order prohibiting respondents from proceeding further in the matter. He alleged that his danger of self-incrimination was attributable to the prosecutorial potentialities of § 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 61 Stat. 136, 157, 29 U.S.C. § 186, 29 U.S.C.A. § 186, making it unlawful

'for any employer to pay or deliver, or to agree to pay or deliver, any money or other thing of value to any representative of any of his employees who are employed in an industry affecting commerce' (§ 302(a)),

and to the fact that the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York had 'made public announcement of his intention to cooperate with the (respondent) District Attorney * * * in the prosecution of criminal cases in the field of the subject matter out of which petitioner's commitment arose.' The petition for

Page 374

reversal of the contempt conviction was denied by the Supreme Court; this judgment was unanimously affirmed in the Appellate Division, 2 A.D.2d 579, 157 N.Y.S.2d 158, and, without opinion, by the Court of Appeals of New York, 2 N.Y.2d 913, 161 N.Y.S.2d 437, 141 N.E.2d 825, which duly amended its remittitur to show that it had passed on and rejected petitioner's claim of a privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, 2 N.Y.2d 975, 162 N.Y.S.2d 613, 142 N.E.2d 649. We granted certiorari, 355 U.S. 804, 78 S.Ct. 23, 2 L.Ed.2d 27, to consider this constitutional question.

Petitioner does not claim that his conviction of contempt for refusal to answer questions put to him in a state proceeding deprived him of liberty or property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; that such a claim is without merit was settled in Twining v. State of New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, 29 S.Ct. 14, 53 L.Ed. 97. His contention is, rather, that, because the Congress of the United States has in the exercise of its constitutional powers made certain conduct unlawful, the Fifth Amendment gives him the privilege, which he can assert against either a State or the National Government, against giving testimony that might tend to implicate him in a violation of the federal act.1 Because of the momentum of adjudication whereby doctrine expands from case to case, such a claim carries dangerous implications. It may well lead to the contention that when Congress enacts a statute carrying criminal sanctions it has as a practical matter withdrawn from the States their traditional power to investigate in aid of prosecuting conventional state

Page 375

crimes, some facts of which may be entangled in a federal offense. To recognize such a claim would disregard the historic distribution of power as between Nation and States in our federal system.

The essence of a constitutionally formulated federalism is the division of political and legal powers between two systems of government constituting a single Nation. The crucial difference between federalisms is in a wide sweep of powers conferred upon the central government with a reservation of specific powers to the constituent units as against a particularization of powers granted to the federal government with the vast range of governmental powers left to the constituent units. The difference is strikingly illustrated by the British North America Act, 1867, 30 Vict., c. 3, and the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900, 63 & 64 Vict., c. 12. It is relevant to remind that our Constitution is one of particular powers given to the National Government with the powers not so delegated reserved to the States or, in the case of limitations upon both governments, to the people. Except insofar as penal remedies may be provided by Congress under the explicit authority to 'make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution' the other powers granted by Art. I, § 8, the bulk of authority to legislate on what may be compendiously described as criminal justice, which in other nations belongs to the central government, is under our system the responsibility of the individual States.

The choice of this form of federal arrangement was the product of a jealous concern lest federal power encroach upon the proper domain of the States and upon the rights of the people. It was the same jealous concern that led to the restrictions on the National Government expressed by the first ten amendments, colloquially known as the Bill of Rights. These provisions are deeply concerned with procedural safeguards pertaining to crim-

Page 376

inal justice within the restricted area of federal jurisdiction. They are not restrictions upon the vast domain of the criminal law the belongs exclusively to the States.2 Needless to say, no statesman of his day cared more for safeguarding the liberties that were enshrined in the Bill of Rights than did James Madison. But it was his view that these liberties were already protected against federal action by the Constitution itself. 'My own opinion,' he wrote to Thomas Jefferson, 'has always been in favor of a bill of rights; provided it be so framed as not to imply powers not meant to be included in the enumeration. At the same time I have never thought the omission a material defect, nor been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment, for any other reason than that it is anxiously desired by others. I have favored it because I supposed it might be of use, and if properly

Page 377

executed could not be of disservice. I have not viewed it in an important light 1. Because I conceive that in a certain degree, though not in the extent argued by Mr. Wilson, the rights in question are reserved by the manner in which the federal powers are granted. * * *'3 Plainly enough the limitations arising from the manner in which the federal powers were granted were limitations on the Federal Government, not on the States. The Bill of Rights that Madison sponsored because others anxiously desired that these limitations be made explicit patently was likewise limited to the Federal Government. If conclusive proof of this were needed, it is afforded by the fact that when Madison came to sponsor the Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives as safeguards against the Federal Government he proposed that like safeguards against the States be placed in the United States Constitution.4 Congress, however, rejected such limitations upon state power.

Page 378

While the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 did not change the distribution of powers between the States and the Federal Government so as to withdraw the basic interests of criminal justice from the exclusive control of the States, it did impose restrictions upon the States in the making and in the enforcement of the criminal laws. It did this insofar as the 'fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions,' Hebert v. State of Louisiana, 272 U.S. 312, 316, 47 S.Ct. 103,...

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83 practice notes
  • United States v. Atlantic Richfield Co., Civ. A. No. 75-3096
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • March 29, 1977
    ...issues raised by defendants are not properly before us. First, defendants claim that the statute creates a "whipsaw" (Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 384, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393 (1958) (Black, J., dissenting) by which their privilege against self-incrimination is being destroyed, ......
  • United States v. Sacco, No. 72-1985 to 72-1989.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 30, 1974
    ...$50 fine." 45 See Wechsler, Political Safeguards of Federalism, Selected Essays on Constitutional Law, 185 (1963). 46 Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 375, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 1305, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393 (1958). See, also, Darby, supra, at p. 124, of 312 U. S., 61 S.Ct. 451, and the dissent of Justic......
  • Gamble v. United States, No. 17-646
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 17, 2019
    ...from compelling a defendant to provide testimony that could incriminate him or her in another jurisdiction. Knapp v. Schweitzer , 357 U.S. 371, 375–381, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393 (1958). After application of the self-incrimination privilege to the States, the Court concluded that its pr......
  • Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, No. 138
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1964
    ...Court reversed the criminal contempt conviction on procedural grounds but, relying on this Court's decisions in Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393; Feldman v. United States, 322 U.S. 487, 64 S.Ct. 1082, 88 L.Ed. 1408; and United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
81 cases
  • United States v. Atlantic Richfield Co., Civ. A. No. 75-3096
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • March 29, 1977
    ...issues raised by defendants are not properly before us. First, defendants claim that the statute creates a "whipsaw" (Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 384, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393 (1958) (Black, J., dissenting) by which their privilege against self-incrimination is being destroyed, ......
  • United States v. Sacco, No. 72-1985 to 72-1989.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 30, 1974
    ...$50 fine." 45 See Wechsler, Political Safeguards of Federalism, Selected Essays on Constitutional Law, 185 (1963). 46 Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 375, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 1305, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393 (1958). See, also, Darby, supra, at p. 124, of 312 U. S., 61 S.Ct. 451, and the dissent of Justic......
  • Gamble v. United States, No. 17-646
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 17, 2019
    ...from compelling a defendant to provide testimony that could incriminate him or her in another jurisdiction. Knapp v. Schweitzer , 357 U.S. 371, 375–381, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393 (1958). After application of the self-incrimination privilege to the States, the Court concluded that its pr......
  • Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, No. 138
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1964
    ...Court reversed the criminal contempt conviction on procedural grounds but, relying on this Court's decisions in Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393; Feldman v. United States, 322 U.S. 487, 64 S.Ct. 1082, 88 L.Ed. 1408; and United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Supreme Court Behavior and Civil Rights
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 13-2, June 1960
    • June 1, 1960
    ...v. Rainfair, 355 U.S. 131 (1957); Sacher v. U.S., 356 U.S. 576 (1958); Ashdown v. Utah, 357 U.S. 426 (1958); Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371 (1958);N.A.A.C.P. v. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449 (1958); Lerner v. Casey, 357 U.S. 468 (1958); Beilanv. Board of Education of the City of Philadelphia, ......
  • The Supreme Court of the United States, 1963-1964
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 17-4, December 1964
    • December 1, 1964
    ...cases of the problem andrejected the holdings of Murdock ( United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141, 1931 ) , Knapp (Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 1958), and Feldman (Feldman United States, 322 U.S. 487, 1944). &dquo;We hold that the constitutional privilegeagainst self-incrimination pro......

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