the statute was unconstitutional, as the phrase 'without crowding' was too uncertain and indefinite to constitute an ascertainable standard of guilt. It pointed out that the dividing line between what is lawful and unlawful may not be left to conjecture.
Applying the foregoing doctrine to the instant case, the conclusion is inescapable that Sections 303 to 307 are invalid. The clause, 'to influence, directly or indirectly, the passage or defeat of any legislation by the Congress' is manifestly too indefinite and vague to constitute an ascertainable standard of guilt. What is meant by influencing the passage or defeat of legislation indirectly? It may be communication with Committees or Members of the Congress; it may be to cause other persons to communicate with Committees or Members of the Congress; it may be to influence public opinion by literature, speeches, advertisements, or other means in respect to matters that might eventually be affected by legislation; it may be to influence others to help formulate public opinion. It may cover any one of a multitude of undefined activities. No one can foretell how far the meaning of this phrase may be carried. No one can determine in advance what activities are comprehended within its scope.
The statement found in a prior clause of Section 307 to the effect that its provisions apply to certain persons whose principal purpose is to aid in the accomplishment of the enumerated objectives, is likewise subject to the same criticism.
What is meant by 'principal purpose'? Is the term 'principal' used as distinguished from 'incidental'? May a person have a number of principal purposes? Or is the term used as meaning the 'chief' purpose of a person's activities? When does a purpose become principal and when does it cease to be such? The Act contains no definition of that term.
We conclude that Sections 303 to 307, inclusive, are invalid as contravening the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment in failing to define the offense with sufficient precision and to set forth an ascertainable standard of guilt.
Section 310 of the Act, which relates to penalties, subjects any person who violates the provisions of the Act to a fine of not more than $ 5,000, or imprisonment for not more than twelve months, or both. In addition, subsection (b) of Section 310, provides that any person so convicted shall be prohibited for a period of three years from attempting to influence, directly or indirectly, the passage or defeat of any proposed legislation, or from appearing before a Committee of the Congress in support of or opposition to proposed legislation. Violations of this prohibition are made felonies punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of $ 10,000.
Freedom of speech and the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for redress of grievances are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Congress is prohibited from making any law abridging these rights. The penalty provision of the Act, however, manifestly deprives a person convicted of violating the statute, of his constitutional right of freedom of speech and his constitutional right to petition the legislation branch of the Government. This clause is obviously unconstitutional. A person convicted of a crime may not for that reason be stripped of his constitutional privileges. In principle this provision is no different than would be an enactment depriving a person of the right of counsel, or the right of trial by jury, for a period of three years after conviction. It is inconceivable that anyone would argue in support of the validity of such a provision, and yet, in principle, the penalty clause in this statute is no different. We, therefore, reach the further conclusion that Sections 303 to 307, inclusive, of the statute are unconstitutional in that the penalty attached to their violation is invalid and contravenes the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Accordingly, we hold that Sections 303 to 307, inclusive, of the Act are unconstitutional. We regard Section 308 as severable and we, therefore, do not express any opinion as to its validity, because that question is not involved in this litigation.
A permanent injunction against the prosecution of the plaintiffs for violations of any provision of Sections 303 to 307, inclusive, is granted.