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UNITED STATES v. MILLER

May 31, 1957

UNITED STATES
v.
Arthur MILLER, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCLAUGHLIN

The defendant is charged in the Indictment under Title 2, Section 192, United States Code Annotated, *fn1" with unlawfully refusing to answer questions asked of him on June 21, 1956, before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives then conducting hearings pursuant to the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, Section 121(q), (60 Stat. 828) and House Resolution 5, 84th Congress. *fn2"

The questions asked of the defendant, which he is charged with having refused to answer are:

 'Can you tell us who were there when you walked into the room' as set forth in Count 1 of the Indictment, and

 'Was Arnaud D'Usseau chairman of this meeting of the Communist Party writers which took place in 1947 at which you were in attendance?' as set forth in Count 2 of the Indictment.

 The evidence before the Court establishes that it was developed during the above hearing that the defendant, a successful playwright, had been identified with movements and organizations having Communistic relationships and that the questions set forth in the Indictment had to do with a meeting of Communist Party writers in 1947, the defendant testifying before the Committee that he had attended about five or six such meetings.

 To state the situation concisely, the defendant, a witness before a Subcommittee of the Un-American Activities Committee in 1956, refused to answer when asked questions as to who were present at a meeting of Communist Party writers which he attended in 1947 and whether a named individual was chairman of that meeting.

 As outlined by the Court, at the beginning of this trial in considerable explanatory detail and acquiesced in, or, at least not gainsaid by the Government or by defendant, the ultimate, if not indeed the sole issue in the trial is whether the questions which defendant refused to answer before the Congressional Committee were pertinent to the question then under inquiry by that Committee.

 The defendant's position is that the pertinency of the questions asked the defendant to the question under inquiry is to be tested solely by the purpose of the particular hearing at which defendant refused to answer, as that purpose was stated of the Chairman at the commencement of the hearing. This opening statement by the Chairman was:

 'The hearings which the Committee on Un-American Activities are beginning this morning deal with one of the most vital aspects of our entire security problem, the fraudulent procurement and misuse of American passports by persons in the service of the Communist conspiracy.'

 The Government, by its counsel, stated that it would undertake to establish that said questions were pertinent to the subject of the fraudulent procurement and misuse of American passports by persons in the service of the Communist conspiracy, as announced by the Chairman of the Subcommittee.

 At the outset defendant contends that the Subcommittee had no legislative purpose in asking the defendant the questions which formed the basis for this indictment. It is clearly requisite that the Subcommittee must have a valid legislative purpose in investigating the subject matter which is the question under inquiry, during which investigation the specific questions were asked. Barsky v. United States, 1948, 83 U.S.App.D.C. 127, 167 F.2d 241, certiorari denied, 1948, 334 U.S. 843, 68 S. Ct. 1511, 92 L. Ed. 1767. The power of the Subcommittee to investigate for legislative purpose is equally clear. In the recent case of Quinn v. United States, 1955, 349 U.S. 155, 75 S. Ct. 668, 672, 99 L. Ed. 964, petitioner had appeared before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities and had refused to answer a question which the Subcommittee asked him. The Court there said:

 'There can be no doubt as to the power of Congress by itself or through its committees, to investigate matters and conditions relating contemplated legislation.' (Emphasis supplied.)

 Also in the case of Barenblatt v. United States, D.C.Cir., 1957, 240 F.2d 875, 880, the Court of Appeals for this Circuit said:

 'There can be no doubt that Congress has the power of inquiry and investigation when the inquiry or investigation is upon a subject concerning which Congress may legislate.'

 It is also clear that legislative investigations are presumed to have a legislative purpose. Townsend v. United States, 1938, 68 App.D.C. 223, 95 F.2d 352. There can be no dispute concerning the right of Congress to legislate with respect to passports. In this case the Government has shown that the Subcommittee possessed information that American passports were being misused by persons connected with, and controlled by the Communist conspiracy. In Barsky v. United States, supra, the Court of Appeals of this Circuit Stated (83 U.S.App.D.C. 127, 167 F.2d 245):

 'So that even as to ordinary subjects the power of inquiry by the legislature is coextensive with the power of legislation and it is not limited to the scope or content of contemplated legislation.'

 Since the Congress has power to legislate concerning passports, it is evident that Congress had the right to investigate the subject of passports. It follows that investigations concerning passports conducted on the basis of that right have a legislative purpose. Additional significant evidence of legislative interest of the Subcommittee as bearing on the question of legislative purpose on the part of the Subcommittee is found in the fact that following the hearings it made recommendations to the Congress regarding proposed passport legislation. In the circumstances the Court finds that legislative purpose has been established.

 The question with which the Court is confronted is, therefore, whether the questions which the defendant refused to answer were in fact pertinent to the question then under inquiry by the Subcommittee, namely, the question of the fraudulent procurement and misuse of American passports by persons in the service of the Communist conspiracy.

 Considering this question the Court turns to the evidence introduced by the Government in relation to its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the questions which defendant is accused of refusing to answer were pertinent to the question of the fraudulent procurement and misuse of American passports by persons in the service of the Communist conspiracy.


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