State ex rel. Robinson v. Fluent

Decision Date18 March 1948
Docket Number30523.
Citation191 P.2d 241,30 Wn.2d 194
PartiesSTATE ex rel. ROBINSON v. FLUENT.
CourtWashington Supreme Court

Rehearing Denied May 14, 1948.

Original mandamus proceeding by the State of Washington on the relation of Dana T. Robinson against Russell H. Fluent, State Treasurer, to compel the State Treasurer to pay a warrant drawn by the state auditor on the state treasurer in payment of compensation of the relator for services rendered to a joint legislative fact finding committee. The Washington Pension Union, a corporation, intervened.

Writ of mandamus granted.

SCHWELLENBACH and SIMPSON, JJ., and MALLERY, C.J., dissenting.

Ford Q. Elvidge and Charles C. Ralls, both of Seattle, and Smith Troy, of Olympia, for relator.

George E. Flood, of Seattle, and Richard S. Munter, of Spokane, and George C.

Kinnear of Seattle and Joseph E. Hurley, of Spokane, amici curiae on behalf of relator.

Stanbery Foster, of Olympia, Sp. Asst. to Smith Troy, Atty. Gen., for respondent.

Caughlan & Hatten, of Seattle, for intervener.

MILLARD Justice.

This is an original application for a writ of mandamus to compel the state treasurer to pay a warrant drawn by the state auditor on the state treasurer in payment of compensation of relator for services rendered to the joint legislative fact-finding committee on un-American activities (Laws of 1947, p. 1378), created by House concurrent resolution No. 10 of the 1947 legislature. Respondent treasurer demurs to and moves denial of the application upon the grounds (1) that the 1947 legislature was without authority to establish by concurrent resolution any committee to function after adjournment sine die of that legislature (2) that no valid appropriation exists from which to pay relator's warrant. Washington Pension Union, a domestic corporation, has been permitted to intervene and ressist application of relator for a writ of mandate.

The joint legislative fact-finding committee on un-American activities was created by the 1947 session of the legislature, by the concurrent action of both houses. The resolution originated in and was passed by the house, March 3, 1947, and was signed by the speaker of the house. The resolution passed the senate, March 8, 1947, and was signed by the president of the senate. Concurrent resolution No. 10 (Laws of 1947, p. 1378) reads as follows:

'Be It Resolved, By the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, of the State of Washington in legislative session assembled:
'Whereas, These are times of public danger; subversive persons and groups are endangering our domestic unity, so as to leave us unprepared to meet aggression, and under cover of the protection afforded by the bill of rights these persons and groups seek to destroy our liberites and our freedom by force, threats and sabotage, and to subject us to the domination of foreign powers; and
'Whereas, Recent announcements by responsible officers of the federal government indicate the seriousness of the problem. J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently said: 'During the past five years American Communists have made their deepest inroads upon our national life. Their propaganda, skillfully designed and adroitly executed has been projected into practically every phase of our national life. The Communist influence has projected itself into some newspapers, books, radio and the screen, some churches, schools, colleges and even fraternal orders have been penetrated, not with the approval of the rank and file, but in spite of them'; and

'Whereas, State legislation to meet the problem and to assist law enforcement officers can best be based on a thorough and impartial investigation by a competent and active legislative committee;

'Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, That there is hereby created a Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in the State of Washington which shall investigate, ascertain, collate and appraise all facts concerning individuals, groups or organizations whose activities are such as to indicate a purpose to foment internal strife, discord and dissension; infiltrate and undermine the stability of our American institutions; confuse and mislead the people, and impede the normal progress of our state and nation either in a war time or a peace time economy; and

'Be It Further Resolved, That in addition to other duties imposed upon the committee, the committee shall investigate the activities of groups and organizations whose membership includes persons who are communists, or any other organization known or suspected to be dominated or controlled by a foreign power, which activities affect the conduct of this state, the functioning of any state agency, unemployment relief and other forms of public assistance, educational institutions of this state supported in whole or in part by state funds, or any political program; and 'Be It Further Resolved, That the committee shall consist of four members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the speaker thereof; and three members of the Senate appointed by the president thereof and they shall be subject to confirmation of their respective bodies. The speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint the chairman of the board; and

'Be It Further Resolved, That the committee hereby created in exercising the powers and performing the functions vested in it by this resolution shall have: (I) All the powers conferred upon legislative committees by chapter 6, Laws of 1895 and chapter 33, Laws of 1897; (II) except when inconsistent with this resolution, all the powers conferred upon committees by the rules of the House of Representatives, the rules of the Senate, and the joint rules of the Senate and House of Representatives as they are enacted and amended from time to time and such rules are hereby incorporated herein and made a part hereof the same as if they were set forth in this resolution in full; (III) all powers necessary or convenient to accomplish the objects and purposes of this resolution, including but not limited to the following duties and powers:

'(1) To employ and fix the compensation of a secretary and such clerical, legal, expert and technical assistants as it may deem necessary, and to lease, rent or buy such supplies and facilities as may be required;

'(2) The chairman shall have authority to create subcommittees from its membership, assigning to the subcommittee any study, inquiry, investigation or hearing which the committee itself has authority to undertake or hold, and the subcommittee for the purpose of this assignment shall have and exercise all of the powers conferred upon the committee limited by the express terms of the resolution or resolutions of the latter defining the powers and duties of the subcommittee, which powers may be withdrawn or terminated at any time by the committee;

'(3) To adopt and from time to time amend such rules governing its procedure (including the fixing of its own quorum and the number of votes necessary to take action on any matter) as may to it appear appropriate;

'(4) To contract with such other agencies, public or private, as it deems necessary for the rendition and affording of such services, facilities, studies and reports to the committee as will best assist it to carry out the purposes for which it is created;

'(5) To hold public hearings at any place in the State of Washington at which hearings the people are to have an opportunity to present their views to the committee;

'(6) To make a complete study, survey and investigation of every phase of the subject of this resolution, including but not limited to the operation, effect, administration, enforcement, and needed revision of any and all laws in anywise bearing upon or relating to the subject of this resolution;

'(7) To meet at any and all places in this state, in public or executive session;

'(8) To act during this session of the legislature, including any recess hereof, and after final adjournment hereof until commencement of the thirty-first legislature;

'(9) To file a report with the thirty-first legislature;

'(10) To summon and subpoena witnesses, require the production of papers, books, accounts, reports, documents, and records of every kind and description; to issue subpoenas and to take all necessary means to compel the attendance of witnesses and procure testimony; to pay fees and traveling expenses of witnesses to insure their attendance, if necessary; to procure from any court having jurisdiction, upon complaint showing probable cause to believe that pertinent evidence is being concealed or withheld from the committee, a search warrant and cause a search to be made therefor;

'(11) To cooperate with and secure the cooperation of county, city, city and county and other local enforcement agencies in investigating any matter within the scope of this resolution, and to direct the sheriff of any county to serve subpoenas, orders, and other process issued by the committee; and

'(12) To do any and all other things necessary or convenient to enable it fully and adequately to exercise its powers, perform its duties, and accomplish the objects and purposes of this resolution; and in case of disobedience on the part of any witness to comply with any subpoena issued by the committee or on the refusal of any person to testify regarding any matter on which he may be lawfully interrogated, the superior court of any county, or the judge thereof, on application of the committee, shall compel compliance by proceedings for contempt, as in the case of disobedience of the requirements of a subpoena issued from such court or a refusal to testify therein; and

'Be It Further Resolved, That the committee, each of its...

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18 cases
  • Wash. State Farm Bureau Feder. v. Gregoire
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • November 21, 2007
    ...which are necessary and incidental to a free and unobstructed exercise of its appropriate functions.'" State ex rel. Robinson v. Fluent, 30 Wash.2d 194, 203-04, 191 P.2d 241 (1948) (quoting Ex parte McCarthy, 29 Cal. 395 (1866)). "`Plenary power in the legislature, for all purposes of civil......
  • Seeley v. State
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • July 24, 1997 from the lawful exercise of government police power. P.2d 982 (1955) (Donworth, J., dissenting); State ex rel. Robinson v. Fluent, 30 Wash.2d 194, 240, 191 P.2d 241, cert. denied, 335 U.S. 844, 69 S.Ct. 66, 93 L.Ed. 394 (1948) (Simpson, J., dissenting); and to support the right to an i......
  • Brown v. Owen
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • March 5, 2009
    ...and unobstructed exercise of its appropriate functions.'" (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting State ex rel. Robinson v. Fluent, 30 Wash.2d 194, 203-04, 191 P.2d 241 (1948))); Zylstra, 85 Wash.2d at 755, 539 P.2d 823 (internal procedural powers are prerequisite to the exercise of leg......
  • State ex rel. James v. Aronson
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • August 20, 1957
    ...Dictionary, Deluxe Ed., p. 1643. 'The case of State ex rel. Hamblen v. Yelle, supra, was cited with approval in State ex rel. Robinson v. Fluent, 30 Wash.2d 194, 191 P.2d 241, and again in the case of State v. James, 36 Wash.2d 882, 221 P.2d 482. See also, Parker v. Riley, 18 Cal.2d 83, 113......
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1 books & journal articles
  • The Origin of Article I, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution
    • United States
    • Seattle University School of Law Seattle University Law Review No. 31-03, March 2008
    • Invalid date
    ...120 Mass. 118 (1876). 152. Kilbourn, 103 U.S 168. 153. See In re Chapman, 166 U.S. at 671-72; Robinson v. Fluent, 30 Wash. 2d 194, 202, 191 P.2d 241, 245 154. Pitler, supra note 46. 155. The term "convergence" theory has been used by the U.S. Supreme Court and academics to describe Boyd's t......

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