Oklahoma Press Pub Co v. Walling News Printing Co v. Same

Decision Date11 February 1946
Docket Number63,Nos. 61,s. 61
PartiesOKLAHOMA PRESS PUB. CO. v. WALLING, Adm'r, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor. NEWS PRINTING CO., Inc., v. SAME
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

[Syllabus from pages 186-188 intentionally omitted] Mr.Elisha Hanson, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Mr. Irving J. Levy, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE delivered the opinion of the Court.

These cases bring for decision important questions concerning the Administrator's right to judicial enforcement of subpoenas duces tecum issued by him in the course of investigations conducted pursuant to § 11(a) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U.S.C.A. § 211(a). His claim is founded directly upon § 9, 29 U.S.C.A. § 209, which incorporates the enforcement provisions of §§ 9 and 10 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 717, 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 49, 50.1 The subpoenas sought the production of specified records to determine whether petitioners were violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, including records relating to coverage. Petitioners, newspaper publishing corporations, maintain that the Act is not applicable to them, for constitutional and other reasons, and insist that the question of coverage must be adjudicated before the subpoenas may be enforced.

In No. 61, involving the Oklahoma Press Publishing Company, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has rejected this view, holding that the Administrator was entitled to enforcement upon showing of 'probable cause,' which it found had been made. 147 F.2d 658. Accordingly it affirmed the District Court's order directing that the Administrator be given access to the records and documents specified.2

In No. 63, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit likewise rejected the company's position, one judge dissenting on the ground that probable cause had not been shown. 148 F.2d 57. It accordingly reversed the District Court's order of dismissal in the proceeding to show cause, which in effect denied enforcement for want of a showing of coverage. Application of Walling, 49 F.Supp. 659.3 The Court of Appeals thought that requiring the Administrator 'to make proof of coverage would be to turn the proceeding into a suit to decide a question which must be determined by the Administrator in the course of his investigation' (148 F.2d 60), and relied upon Endicott Johnson Corp. v. Perkins, 317 U.S. 501, 63 S.Ct. 339, 87 L.Ed. 424, as being persuasive that this could not be done. Regarding the subpoena as containing no unreasonable demand, it conceived the return and affidavits filed by the company, together with the Administrator's allegations of coverage,4 as a showing sufficient to require enforcement. Hence it directed that the District Court's discretion be exercised with that effect.

Because of the importance of the issues for administration of the Act and also on account of the differences in the grounds for the two decisions, as well as between them and decisions from other circuits,5 certiorari was granted in both cases. 325 U.S. 845, 65 S.Ct. 1200, 1201.

The issues have taken wide range. They are substantially the same in the two causes, except in one respect to be noted.6 In addition to an argument from Congress' intent, reliance falls upon various constitutional provisions, including the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, as well as the limited reach of the commerce clause, to show that the Administrator's conduct and the relief he seeks are forbidden.


Coloring almost all of petitioners' position, as we understand them, is a primary misconception that the First Amendment knocks out any possible application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to the business of publishing and distributing newspapers. The argument has two prongs.

The broadside assertion that petitioners 'could not be covered by the Act,' for the reason that 'application of this Act to its newspaper publishing business would violate its rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment,' is without merit. Associated Press v. National Labor Relations Board, 301 U.S. 103, 57 S.Ct. 650, 81 L.Ed. 953, and Associated Press v. United States, 326, U.S. 1, 65 S.Ct. 1416; Mabee v. White Plains Pub. Co., 327 U.S. 178, 66 S.Ct. 511.7 If Congress can remove obstructions to commerce by requiring publishers to bargain collectively with employees and refrain from interfering with their rights of self-organization, matters closely related to eliminating low wages and long hours, Congress likewise may strike directly at those evils when they adversely affect commerce. United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 116, 117, 657, 61 S.Ct. 451, 458, 85 L.Ed. 609, 132 A.L.R. 1430. The Amendment does not forbid this or other regulation which ends in no restraint upon expression or in any other evil outlawed by its terms and purposes.8

Petitioners' narrower argument, of allegedly invalid classification,9 arises from the statutory exemptions and may be shortly dismissed. The intimation that the Act falls by reason of the exclusion of seamen, farm workers and others by § 13(a) is hardly more than a suggestion and is dismissed accordingly. Cf. Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200, 208, 47 S.Ct. 584, 585, 71 L.Ed. 1000. The contention drawn from the exemption of employees of small newspa ers by § 13(a)(8) deserves only slightly more attention.10 It seems to be two-fold that the amendment forbids Congress to 'regulate the press by classifying it' at all and in any event that it cannot use volume of circulation or size as a factor in the classification.11

Reliance upon Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233, 56 S.Ct. 444, 80 L.Ed. 660, to support these claims is misplaced. There the state statute singled out newspapers for special taxation and was held in effect to graduate the tax in accordance with volume of circulation. Here there was no singling out of the press for treatment different from that accorded other business in general. Rather the Act's purpose was to place publishers of newspapers upon the same plane with other businesses and the exemption for small newspapers had the same object. 83 Cong.Rec. 7445. Nothing in the Grosjean case forbids Congress to exempt some publishers because of size from either a tax or a regulation which would be valid if applied to all.

What has been said also disposes of the contention drawn from the scope of the commerce power and its applicability to the publishing business considered independently of the Amendment's influence. Associated Press v. National Labor Relations Board, supra; Associated Press v. United States, supra.


Other questions pertain to whether enforcement of the subpoenas as directed by the Circuit Courts of Appeals will violate any of petitioners' rights secured by the Fourth Amendment and related issues concerning Congress' intent. It is claimed that enforcement would permit the Administrator to conduct general fishing expeditions into petitioners' books, records and papers, in order to secure evidence that they have violated the Act, without a prior charge or complaint and simply to secure information upon which to base one, all allegedly in violation of the Amendment's search and seizure provisions. Supporting this is an argument that Congress did not intend such use to be made of the delegated power, which rests in part upon asserted constitutional implications, but primarily upon the reports of legislative committees, particularly in the House of Representatives, made in passing upon appropriations for years subsequent to the Act's effective date.12

The short answer to the Fourth Amendment objections is that the records in these cases present no question of actual search and seizure, but raise only the question whether orders of court for the production of specified records have been validly made; and no sufficient showing appears to justify setting them aside.13 No officer or other person has sought to enter petitioners' premises against their will, to search them, or to seize or examine their books, records or papers without their assent, otherwise than pursuant to orders of court authorized by law and made after adequate opportunity to present objections, which in fact were made.14 Nor has any objection been taken to the breadth of the subpoenas or to any other specific defect which would invalidate them.15

What petitioners seek is not to prevent an unlawful search and seizure. It is rather a total immunity to the Act's provisions, applicable to all others similarly situated, requiring them to submit their pertinent records for the Administrator's inspection under every judicial safeguard, after and only after an order of court made pursuant to and in exact compliance with authority granted by Congress. This broad claim of immunity no doubt is induced by petitioners' First Amendment contentions. But beyond them it is rested also upon conceptions of the Fourth Amendment equally lacking in merit.

Petitioners' plea that the Fourth Amendment places them so far above the law that they are beyond the reach of congressional and judicial power as those powers have been exerted here only raises the ghost of controversy long since settled adversely to their claim.16 They have advanced no claim founded on the Fifth Amendment's somewhat related guaranty against self-incrimination, whether or not for the sufficient reason among others that this privilege gives no protection to corporations or their officers against the production of corporate records pursuant to lawful judicial order, which is all these cases involve.17

The cited authorities would be sufficient to dispose of the Fourth Amendment argument, and more recent decisions confirm their ruling.18 Petitioners however are insistent in their contrary views, both upon the constitutional phases and in their asserted bearing upon the intention of Congress. While we think those views reflect a confusion not justified by the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
811 cases
  • People v. Doe
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • December 31, 1981
    ...United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435, 440, n.1, 96 S.Ct. 1619, 1622, n.1, 48 L.Ed.2d 71; Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186, 195, 202, 208, 66 S.Ct. 494, 498, 502, 505, 90 L.Ed. 614; Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 73, 76, 26 S.Ct. 370, 378, 379, 50 L.Ed. 652; Matter of Horowitz......
  • State v. Legrand
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • June 7, 2011
    ...(Citation omitted; emphasis added; internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 520-21. In Oklahoma Press Publishing Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186, 208, 66 S. Ct. 494, 90 L. Ed. 614 (1946), the United States Supreme Court determined that, with respect to a subpoena, corporate records or papers we......
  • Telephone News System, Inc. v. Illinois Bell Telephone Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • August 14, 1963
    ...it is well settled that a corporation is not protected by the privilege against self-incrimination. Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186, 66 S.Ct. 494, 90 L.Ed. 614 (1946); Wilson v. United States, 221 U.S. 361, 31 S.Ct. 538, 55 L.Ed. 771 (1911). Second, the procedures followed ......
  • Doe v. DiGenova
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • July 29, 1986
    ...(citing United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435, 445, 96 S.Ct. 1619, 1625, 48 L.Ed.2d 71 (1976); Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186, 208, 66 S.Ct. 494, 505, 90 L.Ed. 614 (1946) ). The Court sees no need to reconsider this decision. Indeed, the holding is buttressed by the unseal......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
30 books & journal articles
  • Wages, Hours, and Overtime
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Employment Law. Volume 1 - 2017 Part III. Employee compensation, safety and benefits
    • August 9, 2017
    ...claimed to have been denied.” Kasten , 131 S. Ct. at 1333. The Supreme Court’s decision in Oklahoma Press Publishing Company v. Walling , 327 U.S. 186 (1946), vividly illustrates the DOL’s power to investigate alleged employer misconduct. The case involved a challenge to subpoenas issued by......
  • Wages, Hours, and Overtime
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Employment Law. Volume 1 - 2016 Part III. Employee Compensation, Safety and Benefits
    • July 27, 2016
    ...Performance Plastics, Corp., 131 S. Ct. 1325, 1333 (2011). The Supreme Court’s decision in Oklahoma Press Publishing Company v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186 vividly illustrates the DOL’s power to investigate alleged employer misconduct. The case involved a challenge to subpoenas issued by the DOL.......
  • Table of Cases
    • United States
    • ABA Antitrust Library DOJ Civil Antitrust Practice and Procedure Manual
    • January 1, 2018
    ...1049 (9th Cir. 2015), 28 O’Brien v. Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc., 294 Kan. 318 (2012), 306 Oklahoma Press Publ’g Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186 (1946), 82, 83, 86 Omni Capital Int’l v. Rudolf Wolff Co., 484 U.S. 97 (1987), 198 Omnicare, Inc. v. Unitedhealth Grp., 629 F.3d 697 (7th C......
  • Wages, hours, and overtime
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Texas Employment Law. Volume 1 Part III. Employee compensation, safety and benefits
    • May 5, 2018
    ...claimed to have been denied.” Kasten , 131 S. Ct. at 1333. The Supreme Court’s decision in Oklahoma Press Publishing Company v. Walling , 327 U.S. 186 (1946), vividly illustrates the DOL’s power to investigate alleged employer misconduct. The case involved a challenge to subpoenas issued by......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 provisions
  • Act 110, SB 588 – Uniform Securities Act of 2005
    • United States
    • South Carolina Session Laws
    • January 1, 2005
    ...See,e.g., 10 Louis Loss & Joel Seligman, Securities Regulation4917-4937 (3d ed. rev. 1996) (discussing Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v.Walling, 327 U.S. 186 (1946) and other cases). The scope ofsubpoena enforcement in each state is a general matter for judicialdetermination. Under Section 602, an......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT