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OKLAHOMA v. UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

decided: February 10, 1947.

OKLAHOMA
v.
UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION



CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT.

Vinson, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Rutledge, Burton; Murphy and Jackson took no part in the consideration or decision of this case

Author: Reed

[ 330 U.S. Page 129]

 MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

This proceeding brings to this Court*fn* another phase of the Hatch Act. The petitioner, the State of Oklahoma, objects to the enforcement by the United States Civil Service Commission of § 12 (a) of the Act.*fn1

[ 330 U.S. Page 130]

     France Paris has been a member of the State Highway Commission of Oklahoma since January 14, 1943. He was elected chairman of the Democratic State Central

[ 330 U.S. Page 131]

     Committee for Oklahoma for his third term in February 1942 and he occupied such position continuously until October 18, 1943, when he resigned. On October 12, 1943, the Civil Service Commission issued its letter of charges in the matter of France Paris and the State of Oklahoma, in which it notified Mr. Paris and Oklahoma that information which the Civil Service Commission had received warranted

[ 330 U.S. Page 132]

     an investigation into an alleged improper political activity on the part of France Paris under the provisions of § 12 of the Hatch Act. The charge was that since January 14, 1943, Mr. Paris had been an officer of Oklahoma whose principal employment was and is in connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by loans and grants from a federal agency of the United States and that during such time Mr. Paris also held a political party office, to wit, the chairmanship of the State Central Committee above referred to. It later developed that no general election occurred in Oklahoma in 1943. The State Democratic Headquarters had been closed on January 4, 1943, by Mr. Paris and were later reopened during the year under the direct charge of the vice-chairman of that committee, we assume prior to Mr. Paris' resignation on October 18, 1943. On June 14 the committee sponsored a "Victory Dinner" in Oklahoma City. The trial court found as follows:

"This dinner was designed to provide the National Democratic Committee and the State Democratic Committee with funds to discharge a deficit incurred by their political activities and to provide funds for contemplated future activities. It also promoted the sale of war bonds and did result in the sale of approximately $14,500,000.00 in war bonds. The dinner netted the Democratic party, which was conceded to be a political party, approximately $30,000.00. The dinner was staged under the general supervision of the Governor of the state and the details were handled by a committee appointed by the Governor. W. G. Johnston was chairman of this committee. France Paris was an ex officio member of the committee and he advised with the Governor concerning the dinner and called the meeting to order and introduced the toastmaster, but he was not active in planning or arranging the dinner."

[ 330 U.S. Page 133]

     The Civil Service Commission determined that these facts constituted taking an active part in political management and in political campaigns. It considered that the violation warranted Mr. Paris' removal from the office of Highway Commissioner of Oklahoma. It ordered that notice of the aforesaid determinations be given pursuant to § 12 (b) of the Hatch Act. This order foreshadowed, if Mr. Paris was not removed, a further order by the Commission under § 12 (b) to the appropriate federal agency that certain highway grants to Oklahoma should be withheld "in an amount equal to two years compensation" of Mr. Paris.

Pursuant to § 12 (c) the State of Oklahoma, after having received notice of the Civil Service Commission's determination, instituted these proceedings for the review of the order in the proper district court of the United States. That court upheld the action of the Civil Service Commission, 61 F.Supp. 355, and this action was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. State of Oklahoma v. United States Civil Service Commission, 153 F.2d 280. Certiorari was sought and allowed because of the importance of the issues involved in the administration of justice, 328 U.S. 831, under § 12 (c), 53 Stat. 1147, as amended, 54 Stat. 767, and § 240a of the Judicial Code.

The state contends that the judgments below are invalid for the following reasons:

"(1) The Hatch Political Activity Act, in so far as it attempts to regulate the internal affairs of a state, is an invasion of the sovereignty of the states in violation of the United States Constitution. It further is invalid as an unlawful delegation of power.

"(2) If valid, the Act applies only to 'active' participation in political management or political campaigns. Such 'active' participation is not shown to be present in this case.

[ 330 U.S. Page 134]

     "(3) If valid, the Act did not warrant the United States Civil Service Commission in ordering the removal of a state officer or, alternatively, the application of a penalty to the State of Oklahoma.

"(4) The decisions of the lower courts place an intolerable and unjustified restriction upon the right of an aggrieved person to a complete judicial review under the Hatch Political Activity Act."

First. The Government's first contention is that the petitioner, the State of Oklahoma, has no standing to attack the constitutionality of § 12. It is argued that the state has no legal capacity to question the manner in which the United States limits the appropriation of funds through § 12 (a); that § 12 (b) is merely procedural to assure that the statutory requirements are observed and that § 12 (c) is a safeguard against the ...


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