|Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board No 12
100 U.S. 1
107 U.S. App.D.C. 279, 277 F.2d 78, affirmed.
[ Frankfurter ]
[ Warren ]
[ Black ]
[ Douglas ]
[ Brennan ]
Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board No 12
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN, dissenting.
When this case was here in 1956, the Court refused to pass upon the constitutional issues raised by the parties, and instead remanded to the Board because of the possibility that the record was tainted by perjured testimony. At that time, the Court said:
This nonconstitutional issue must be met at the outset, because the case must be decided on a nonconstitutional issue, if the record calls [p116] for it, without reaching constitutional problems.
Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 351 U.S. 115, 122. The Court also noted that a remand was required because the
fastidious regard for the honor of the administration of justice requires the Court to make certain that the doing of justice be made so manifest that only irrational or perverse claims of its disregard can be asserted.
Id. at 124. These statements, applicable in 1956, are even more applicable today, for, in my opinion, the record in this case presents four serious errors of a nonconstitutional nature, the proper resolution of which would not only avoid unnecessary constitutional adjudications, but would also be consistent with the requirements of a fair administration of justice. [n1] To be sure I, like most of my Brethren, have views on the constitutional questions which are raised by this case. I also recognize that a decision as to these constitutional questions would probably put an end to this already protracted litigation. However, I do not believe that strongly felt convictions on constitutional questions or a desire to shorten the course of this litigation justifies the Court in resolving any of the constitutional questions presented so long as the record makes manifest, as I think it does, the existence of nonconstitutional questions upon which this phase of the proceedings can and should be adjudicated. After persuasively expounding the reasons which underlie this Court's steadfast reluctance to decide [p117] constitutional questions prematurely, ante pp. 71-81, the Court concludes that the resolution of some of the constitutional issues raised by the parties should be left for another day. However, in a surprising turnabout, the Court then proceeds to decide other constitutional questions, and it reaches these questions only by first brushing aside, on the basis of a procedural technicality or a strained analysis, many important nonconstitutional issues. I do not think that the Court's action can be justified.
One of the Government's leading witnesses at the initial hearing before the Board was Benjamin Gitlow. Prior to his expulsion from the Communist Party in 1929, Gitlow had been a high official in the Party. His testimony before the Board covered over 1,400 pages in the record, and the Board relied heavily upon his testimony in finding that the Communist International controlled petitioner, subsidized it, and supervised it through foreign representatives in this country. In addition, the Board relied upon Gitlow's testimony to corroborate the testimony of government witness Joseph Kornfeder, whose demeanor led the Board "to examine his testimony with . . . caution." In 1940, Gitlow turned over to the FBI a large quantity of official documents relating to the Party and its past history. He also prepared and gave to the FBI memoranda which explained and interpreted the documents. During his direct examination at the original hearing before the Board, Gitlow identified many of the original documents and explained their contents and significance. On cross-examination, the petitioner, obviously hoping to impeach Gitlow's damaging testimony, moved for the production of the explanatory memoranda which Gitlow had prepared in 1940. The petitioner's motion was denied by the Board. Although, [p118] in its first petition in the Court of Appeals to review the order of the Board, the petitioner assigned the Board's denial of the motion for production as error, the court failed to decide the question, presumably because the petitioner had not pressed the point either in its brief or during oral argument. Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 102 U.S.App.D.C. 395, 403, 254 F.2d 314, 322. Nor was the issue raised in the petition for certiorari filed in this Court in 1955. However, after this Court remanded the case in 1956, the petitioner again moved the Board to order production of the memoranda. The Board denied the motion, and, on review, the Court of Appeals held that the Board's ruling could not be corrected by a petition to review the Board's order. Relying on Consolidated Edison Co. v. Labor Board, 305 U.S. 197, the court said that the petitioner's failure to make a motion in the Court of Appeals for leave to adduce additional evidence under § 14(a) of the Act [n2] at the time the Board initially refused to order production of the memoranda constituted a waiver of the objection. After a second remand to the Board by the Court of Appeals, the Party did seek to have the memoranda produced pursuant to § 14(a) of the Act. However, the Court of Appeals denied the motion, later explaining that the petitioner's [p119] procedural misstep could not be rectified nunc pro tunc. Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 107 U.S.App.D.C. 279, 282, 277 F.2d 78, 81.
Today, the Court refuses to reach this important evidentiary question, and it does so by adopting an argument that was unanimously rejected by the Court of Appeals. 102 U.S.App.D.C. at 402-403, 254 F.2d at 321-322. The Court holds that petitioner may not now challenge the Board's refusal to order the production of the Gitlow memoranda because it failed to raise the question in its 1955 petition for certiorari. With due respect, I must dissent from this holding, which, to the extent that it transforms Rule 23, par. 1(c) of our Rules of Procedure [n3] into an immutable rule of abandonment, is both unorthodox and unwise. The Court's position will not bear analysis.
It is undoubtedly true that piecemeal appeals should be avoided, and that claims not preserved throughout a litigation will not generally be entertained at some subsequent, and perhaps terminal, stage of the proceedings. However, this general rule is not an absolute dogma, and has on numerous occasions yielded to subordinating policy considerations. In fact, the United States Reports are replete with instances wherein the Court decided issues which were never even mentioned in the petition for certiorari. See, e.g., Boynton v. Virginia, 364 U.S. 454; Mackey v. Mendoza-Martinez, 362 [p120] U.S. 384; Neese v. Southern R. Co., 350 U.S. 77; Alma Motor Co. v. Timken-Detroit Axle Co., 329 U.S. 129; Marshall v. Pletz, 317 U.S. 383; Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64. One of the policy considerations which has always led the Court to forsake the general rules of waiver is the admonition that "we ought not to pass on questions of constitutionality . . . unless such adjudication is unavoidable." Spector Motor Service, Inc., v. McLaughlin, 323 U.S. 101, 105. Thus, in Neese v. Southern R. Co., supra, the Court refused to pass upon the constitutional question which had been tendered by the petition for certiorari, and instead rested its decision upon the adjudication of an evidentiary question which had not been raised in the petition for certiorari. In so doing, the Court said:
We need not consider respondent's contention that only the jurisdictional question was presented by the petition for certiorari, for, in reversing on the above ground, we follow the traditional practice of this Court of refusing to decide constitutional questions when the record discloses other grounds of decision, whether or not they have been properly raised before us by the parties.
Id. at 78. (Emphasis added.) And in Alma Motor Co. v. Timken-Detroit Axle Co., supra, the Court avoided a difficult constitutional adjudication by resting its decision on a nonconstitutional ground which, as the Court noted, "was neither considered nor decided by the court below, nor argued here." Id. at 132. Only last Term, in Mackey v. Mendoza-Martinez, supra, the Court, in an effort to avoid an unnecessary constitutional decision, remanded the case to the District Court for consideration by that court of a nonconstitutional issue which had not been raised by either party in any court, but which this Court, sua sponte, had discovered lurking in the record. This action was taken even though the case had had a lengthy history and had been before this Court on a previous occasion. See also Boynton v. Virginia, supra. Thus, if [p121] the Court, in order to avoid the adjudication of constitutional questions, has in the past rested its decisions on issues not raised by a petition for certiorari, there certainly should be no objection to avoiding a difficult constitutional decision in this case by resolving a nonconstitutional issue which was decided by the Court of Appeals, explicitly raised in the instant petition for certiorari, and thoroughly briefed by counsel for both sides. [n4]
Since the petitioner should not be deemed to have waived the Gitlow question if a resolution of that question will make it unnecessary for the Court to reach the constitutional issues presented by this case, the next question which must be considered is whether a determination of the Gitlow question, on the merits, would require a reversal of the judgment below. I think it would. As indicated, the Court of Appeals, relying on the Consolidated Edison case, based its decision on the ground that the petitioner waived its objection by not having made a timely motion for leave to adduce additional evidence pursuant to § 14(a) of the Act. However, the lower court's reliance upon Consolidated Edison is misplaced. In that case, an examiner for the Labor Board refused to permit one of the parties to a proceeding to offer the testimony of two witnesses who had not been scheduled to [p122] appear. Instead of invoking §§ 10(e) and (f) of the National Labor Relations Act (which is very similar to § 14(a) of the Subversive Activities Control Act) and seeking leave of the Court of Appeals to adduce the testimony of the two witnesses, the offering party objected to the examiner's action in a petition to have the Board's final order set aside. The Court of Appeals rejected the claim. This Court recognized that the examiner's action was arbitrary, but, nevertheless, it held that the party's sole remedy in such a situation was to make a motion for leave to adduce the additional testimony of the proffered witnesses, and that, by having failed to pursue that remedy, the party waived its objection.
The wisdom of the Court's holding in Consolidated Edison, insofar as the waiver question is concerned, is certainly subject to criticism. Not only did the decision permit a clearly arbitrary ruling of an examiner to stand uncorrected, but it also established a cumbersome procedure whereby resort to the Court of Appeals was required every time the Board excluded evidence which the offering party thought should have been admitted. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Courts of Appeals have consistently sought ways to avoid the impact of this Court's decision in Consolidated Edison. Thus, one Court of Appeals adopted the fiction of treating the petition for review as including, sub silentio, an application by the party for leave to adduce additional evidence. Mississippi Valley Structural Steel Co. v. Labor Board, 145 F.2d 664, 667. On another occasion, the same court limited the Consolidated Edison holding "to evidence going to the merits of the charge and not to the question of the regularity or fairness of the hearing as conducted by the Board." Cupples Company Manufacturers v. Labor Board, 103 F.2d 953, 956. In fact, even the Court of Appeals whose judgment we are now reviewing applied the Consolidated [p123] Edison rule with great reluctance. [n5] However, it is not necessary to reevaluate the holding of Consolidated Edison, for, in my opinion, that holding is not applicable to the type of situation presented by this case. The statute construed in Consolidated Edison, like § 14(a) of this Act, deals only with a situation wherein a party to a proceeding wishes to introduce additional evidence which he has acquired independently and which will bolster his own case. The statute, by its terms, clearly does not apply to a situation in which a party requests the production of documents for the sole purpose of impeaching his opponent's witnesses. The party making such a request is not attempting "to adduce additional evidence"; he is merely seeking to use documents in the possession of his adversary to impeach testimony which has already been adduced by his adversary. It is thus interesting to note that, of all the cases which I have found involving an application of the Consolidated Edison principle, not one has dealt with the production of documents for purposes of impeachment. [n6] In fact, the most recent decision which involved such a situation properly ignored Consolidated Edison and held, on a petition to enforce the Labor [p124] Board's order, that the Board's failure to require the production of a possibly impeaching document required a remand to the Board. This action was taken even though the complaining party had not made a motion in the Court of Appeals for leave to adduce additional evidence. Labor Board v. Adhesive Products Corp., 258 F.2d 403. [n7] Since the Court of Appeals erred in resting its decision on Consolidated Edison, it next becomes necessary to consider the Government's contention that, even if the Board should have ordered the production of the memoranda, its failure to do so was merely harmless error. In my judgment, the error committed by the Board was anything but harmless. There can be little doubt that the Board should have ordered the production of the Gitlow memoranda. Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657, 18 U.S.C. § 3500. It is certainly possible that the petitioner, armed with these memoranda, may have been able to impeach significantly the testimony of Gitlow, who, as has already been indicated, was a key witness for the Government, and whose expulsion from the Party in 1929 undoubtedly made him hostile toward the petitioner. It would be contrary to our traditional scrupulous protection of the right to have potentially impeaching documents [p125] produced for the Court to say that the Board's failure to order the production of this important witness' prior memoranda was merely harmless error. See Jencks v. United States, supra; Campbell v. United States, 365 U.S. 85. Accordingly, since the Court of Appeals committed reversible error in refusing to remand the case for the production of the Gitlow memoranda, I think the Court should abandon its reliance upon an unorthodox procedural technicality, remand the case to the Board for the production of the memoranda and the further cross-examination of Gitlow, and thereby, consistently with its own admonition, avoid the premature adjudication of complex and difficult constitutional issues.
Another of the Government's major witnesses at the hearing before the Board was Louis Budenz. As the Court's opinion indicates, Budenz' testimony filled some 700 pages in the record, and was used by the Board to support many of its findings, including the crucial finding that petitioner received financial aid from the Soviet Union after petitioner's disaffiliation from the Communist International. During his direct examination, Budenz made repeated references to the so-called Starobin letter and to the Childs-Weiner conversation. Budenz admitted that he had given reports to the FBI concerning these matters, but, on the Government's objection, the Board erroneously denied the petitioner's motion for the production of all such prior statements. After this Court remanded the case in 1956, the petitioner renewed its motion. On the Government's objection, the motion was again denied by the Board. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Board's action on the ground that the FBI seemingly did not have in its possession any statements made by Budenz concerning the Starobin and Weiner [p126] matters. [n8] However, in response to a petition for rehearing filed by the petitioner in the Court of Appeals, the Government disclosed for the first time hat the FBI did have in its possession disc recordings of a five-day interview with Budenz in 1945, and that these discs contained statements pertinent to the Starobin letter and the Childs-Weiner conversation. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals [p127] ordered the Government to produce all statements made by Budenz relating to the matters in question. During the Board proceedings that followed, statements made by Budenz relating to the Starobin letter and the Weiner conversation were excerpted from the recorded interview and the FBI memoranda of later interviews, and these extracts were furnished to the petitioner. Based on the apparent inconsistency between the statements produced and the testimony given by Budenz before the Board, the petitioner moved that Budenz be recalled for cross-examination in the light of the produced documents. As it turned out, however, Budenz was severely ill, and, as stipulated by both parties, was unavailable for further examination. The petitioner then moved to have all of Budenz' testimony stricken on the basis of the inconsistencies referred to, and on the further ground that Budenz' unavailability for cross-examination made it impossible for the petitioner to demonstrate exactly how unreliable all of Budenz' testimony had been. The Board agreed to strike Budenz' testimony on the Starobin and Weiner matters, but it refused to strike any other portion of his testimony. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Board's rulings.
This Court now affirms the lower court's holding, saying that great weight must be given to those whose primary responsibility it is to consider the credibility of witnesses. However, the problem is not as simple as the Court would have us believe. A distinction must be drawn between those situations in which the unavailability of a witness is due to the fault of neither party and those situations in which the witness' unavailability is directly attributable to the conduct of one of the parties. The rule to be applied in each of these cases has been succinctly stated by Professor Wigmore:
Where the witness' death or lasting illness would not have intervened to prevent cross-examination [p128] but for the voluntary act of the witness himself or the party offering him -- as by a postponement or other interruption brought about immediately after the direct examination, it seems clear that the direct testimony must be struck out. Upon the same principle, the same result should follow where the illness is but temporary and the offering party might have recalled the witness for cross-examination before the end of the trial.
But where the death or illness prevents cross-examination under such circumstances that no responsibility of any sort can be attributed to either the witness or his party, it seems harsh measure to strike out all that has been obtained on the direct examination. Principle requires in strictness nothing less. But the true solution would be to avoid any inflexible rule, and to leave it to the trial judge to admit the direct examination so far as the loss of cross-examination can be shown to him to be not in that instance a material loss.
Wigmore, Evidence (3d ed.), § 1390. Thus, as Professor Wigmore indicates, if neither the petitioner nor the respondent had been responsible for Budenz' unavailability, then the Court would be correct in saying that the Board must be given wide latitude in deciding whether to strike Budenz' testimony, and that the Board will be reversed only if it has abused its discretion. However, if Budenz' unavailability was caused by the Government's conduct, then, as Professor Wigmore states, "it seems clear that the direct testimony must be struck out."
The record of this case convincingly demonstrates that the Government was directly responsible for creating the situation in which the petitioner found itself in 1958, when it finally obtained Budenz' prior statements but could make no use of them. Not only did the Government, [p129] by its objections to the petitioner's original motions for production, prompt the Board to refuse production, but it also prevented the Court of Appeals from rectifying the Board's error by representing to the Court that Budenz had made no statements to the FBI concerning the Starobin and Weiner matters. Then, not until it was too late for Budenz to be called for further cross-examination, was the Court of Appeals apprised of the existence of Budenz' prior statements. I do not mean to imply that the Government deliberately withheld this vital information beyond the time that it could have aided the petitioner. But there can be no doubt that the Government's delay in disclosing the existence of Budenz' prior statements made it impossible for the petitioner to make effective use of those statements. Since the Government's voluntary acts caused the curtailment of Budenz' cross-examination, I think the Court of Appeals should have granted the relief which is normal in this type of situation by ordering the Board to strike all of Budenz' testimony.
Nor can the lower court's error be dismissed as harmless. Reference has already been made to the importance of Budenz' testimony to the Government's case. Moreover, as the Court's opinion demonstrates, and as the Court of Appeals admitted, there were marked discrepancies between Budenz' prior statements and his testimony before the Board. Had the petitioner been given Budenz' prior statements, it might have pursued a course of cross-examination which would have thoroughly discredited Budenz and destroyed the Board's apparent faith in his reliability. [n9] However, the petitioner was never able to [p130] conduct such an examination, and the record is therefore clouded by the not unlikely possibility that much of Budenz' testimony was unreliable. This being the case, regard for the elemental rules of fair procedure requires that Budenz' testimony be stricken from the record. Cf. Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 351 U.S. 115; Mesarosh v. United States, 352 U.S. 1.
I think the Court of Appeals also erred in its interpretation and application of § 3(3), one of the most crucial provisions of the Act. That section defines a "Communist action organization" as one (1) which is directed or dominated "by the foreign government or foreign organization controlling the world Communist movement," and (2) which "operates primarily to advance the objectives of such world Communist movement as referred to in section 2 of this title." 64 Stat. 989. Unfortunately, the statute does not, in terms, define the objectives of the world Communist movement which the alleged Communist action organization must be found to advance. However, to set the framework for its argument, the petitioner suggested that the objectives of the world Communist movement, as contemplated by the Act, should be defined as: (1) the overthrow of all existing capitalist governments by any means necessary, including force and violence, and (2) the establishment of a Communist totalitarian dictatorship, which (3) will be subservient to the Soviet Union. The Court of Appeals tentatively accepted the petitioner's definition of the objectives, and concluded that the Board's findings demonstrate that the Party operates to advance all of the suggested objectives. With regard to the first of the three objectives, the court relied upon the Board's finding that the Party "advocates the overthrow of the Government [p131] of the United States by force and violence if necessary." (Emphasis added.)
The petitioner contends that, in the light of our decisions in Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494, and 341 U.S. 494, and Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298, the objectives component of § 3(3) should be construed in such a way that an organization could not be deemed to be advancing the first of the three cited objectives unless it engages in advocacy directed at prompting forceful overthrow of the Government, as distinguished from advocacy as an abstract doctrine; that the Board did not find that the Party engaged in illegal advocacy, but instead found that the petitioner merely engaged in the advocacy of force "if necessary," which is tantamount to the advocacy of forceful overthrow as an abstract doctrine, and that the absence of a finding of unlawful advocacy on the part of the petitioner renders the Board's order unsupportable.
In my judgment, the petitioner's argument is eminently correct. In Yates v. United States, supra, the Court made it clear that a distinction had to be drawn "between advocacy of abstract doctrine and advocacy directed at promoting unlawful action." Id. at 318. It then went on to hold that, while the latter type of advocacy could be prohibited consistently with the dictates of the First Amendment, an attempt to prohibit the former type of advocacy would raise grave constitutional problems. The Court therefore concluded that Congress, well aware of this distinction and of the constitutional problems involved, intended the Smith Act to apply only to advocacy which was aimed at inciting to action. See also Dennis v. United States, supra. There is no reason to assume that, when Congress adopted the Subversive Activities Control Act it was any less aware of the constitutional pitfalls involved in attempting to proscribe advocacy as an abstract doctrine than it was when it passed the Smith Act, for, as the Court said in Yates in construing a congressional [p132] enactment, "we should not assume that Congress chose to disregard a constitutional danger zone so clearly marked." Id. at 319. Therefore, since the construction urged by the petitioner will make the statute more compatible with this Court's prior decisions defining the area of prohibition permissible under the First Amendment, it should be adopted, and the Court should hold that the Board cannot require a group to register as a Communist action organization unless it first finds that the organization is engaged in advocacy aimed at inciting action. [n10] Clearly, the Board made no such finding in this case. The Board merely found that the petitioner has engaged in advocating the use of force "if necessary." However, this is not the sort of advocacy which incites to action. At most, it is no more than the formulation of an abstract doctrine, which, as the Court indicated in Yates, "is too remote from concrete action to be regarded as the kind of indoctrination preparatory to action which was condemned in Dennis." Id. at 321-322.
The Court brushes aside the petitioner's argument by saying that, because this statute is "regulatory" and not "prohibitory," the Yates and Dennis cases are inapplicable. However, it blinks reality to say that this statute is not prohibitory. There can be little doubt that the registration provisions of the statute and the harsh sanctions which are automatically imposed after an order to register has been issued make this Act as prohibitory as any criminal statute. Therefore, for the reasons which I have stated, I think the Board's order ought to be vacated and the case remanded so that the Board can [p133] determine whether the evidence supports a finding that the petitioner is engaging in advocacy aimed at inciting the forceful overthrow of the Government
Finally, I think the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining an order of the Board which was based, in part, on a finding which the court admitted lacked evidentiary support. Section 13(e) of the Act lists eight criteria which the Board should consider in determining whether a group is a Communist action organization. The seventh of these criteria is the extent to which, "for the purpose of concealing foreign direction, domination, or control, or of expediting or promoting its objectives," 64 Stat. 999, an organization engages in certain secret practices or otherwise operates on a secret basis. In its original Report, the Board concluded that the Party engaged in secret practices in order to achieve both of the purposes recited in the Act. The Court of Appeals, in its first opinion, held that the finding of secret practices was proper, but that the Government's evidence failed to demonstrate the purposes for which these practices were pursued. While recognizing this deficiency in the Government's evidence, the Court nevertheless affirmed the Board's order. The two Modified Reports, issued by the Board after the first and second remands, eliminated the original finding that one of the purposes of the secret practices was the concealment of foreign control. However, though no additional evidence was taken regarding secret practices, and even though the Court of Appeals had already expressed its view that the Board's purpose findings were unsupported by the evidence, the two Modified Reports reiterated the finding that the secret practices were engaged in to promote the objectives of the Communist Party. In its third opinion, the Court of Appeals adhered to its ruling that the Board's finding was unsupported by the evidence, [p134] but it nevertheless affirmed the order, holding that the finding was merely a subsidiary one, and that the whole record supported the Board's conclusion that the petitioner met the definition of a Communist action organization contained in § 3(3).
The Court now adopts the lower court's reasoning and holds that, since the unsupported finding was merely "subsidiary," it is not necessary to remand the case to ascertain whether the Board would reach the same ultimate conclusion in the absence of the unsupported finding. I submit that the Court's action does not square either with the facts as they appear in the record or with the prior decisions of this Court. It is unrealistic to characterize the Board's secrecy finding as insignificant and subsidiary. It directly relates to one of the eight enumerated criteria listed in § 13(e). The Board devoted 19 pages to it in the Modified Report. It is also the only one of the § 13(e) standards concerning which there was any substantial amount of evidence of post-Act conduct on the part of the Party. [n11] In view of these circumstances, and in view of the fact that the Board found it necessary to reassert the finding, even though it knew that the Court of Appeals considered the finding unsupported by the evidence, how can it be said that the [p135] finding is unimportant? Surely, if the finding is as unimportant to the Board's conclusion as the Court of Appeals and this Court seem to think it is, the Board would have abandoned the finding altogether, rather than retain it and risk another remand either by the Court of Appeals or by this Court. These factors would not seem to indicate that the finding was trivial, but, on the contrary, that it was crucial to the Board's ultimate conclusion. This being the case, it will not do for the Court of Appeals or for this Court to conclude that the Board would have reached the same conclusion without relying upon the unsupported finding. Congress has placed the responsibility for making that determination in the Board and not in the courts. As this Court said in Securities & Exchange Comm'n v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80, 88,
If an order is valid only as a determination of policy or judgment which the agency alone is authorized to make and which it has not made, a judicial judgment cannot be made to do service for an administrative judgment.
An agency's "action must be measured by what . . . [it] did, not by what it might have done." Id. at 93-94. See also Labor Board v. Virginia Elec. & Power Co., 314 U.S. 469. Therefore, because the Board's order is clouded by the fact that it rests upon a finding which is admittedly unsupported by the evidence, I think the Court should strike the secrecy finding and remand the case to the Board for reconsideration.
In my view, the Court today strays from the well trod path of our prior decisions by reaching out to decide constitutional issues prematurely. If the Court would remand on any one of the four errors which I have discussed, and I think each warrants a remand, the resolution of the difficult constitutional issues presented by this case would certainly be postponed, and perhaps [p136] made totally unnecessary. For if further cross-examination of Gitlow based on the memoranda discredited his testimony, or if all of Budenz' testimony were stricken, or if the Board were required to find that the petitioner actually engaged in advocacy aimed at inciting action, or if the secrecy finding were stricken, the Government's case might be so weakened that it would be impossible for the Board to conclude, on the basis of the present record, that the petitioner is a Communist action organization as that term is used in the statute. Moreover, a remand on the basis of these nonconstitutional errors is the only disposition that would be consistent with the "fastidious regard for the honor of the administration of justice" which the Court found so compelling in 1956. [n12] 351 U.S. at 124.
I think it is unwise for the Court to brush aside the nonconstitutional errors disclosed by this record. However, since the Court insists upon doing so, I feel constrained [p137] to express my views on a dispositive constitutional issue which now confronts us by virtue of the Court's holding on the nonconstitutional questions. I agree with MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN that, once having entered the area of constitutional adjudication, the Court must decide now whether the Act violates the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination by requiring the petitioner's officers to submit a registration statement on behalf of the petitioner. For the reasons set forth in his opinion, which I join, I believe that the Act does constitute a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
1. On remand from this Court, the Board expunged the entire testimony of the alleged perjurers Crouch, Matusow, and Johnson. Although the Board concluded, and the Court of Appeals agreed, that the remaining evidence was sufficient to support an order compelling the petitioner to register, there can be no doubt that the Government's case was weakened by the deletion of the testimony of three important witnesses, and it is therefore on the basis of this already abbreviated record that the nonconstitutional errors alleged by the petitioner must be considered.
2. The relevant portion of § 14(a) reads as follows:
If either party shall apply to the court for leave to adduce additional evidence, and shall show to the satisfaction of the court that such additional evidence is material, the court may order such additional evidence to be taken before the Board and to be adduced upon the proceeding in such manner and upon such terms and conditions as to the court may seem proper. The Board may modify its findings as to the facts, by reason of the additional evidence so taken, and it shall file such modified or new findings, which, if supported by the preponderance of the evidence, shall be conclusive, and its recommendations, if any, with respect to action in the matter under consideration.
64 Stat. 1001-1002.
3. Rule 23, par. 1(c) provides:
The petition for writ of certiorari shall contain. . . .
* * * *
(c) The questions presented for review, expressed in the terms and circumstances of the case but without unnecessary detail. The statement of a question presented will be deemed to include every subsidiary question fairly comprised therein. Only the questions set forth in the petition or fairly comprised therein will be considered by the court.
4. In view of the Court's justified concern over the lengthy history of this litigation, it is noteworthy, I think, that many of the cases to which I have referred also involved protracted litigations, which were lengthened even further by the Court's refusal to adjudicate the constitutional issues argued by the parties. However, what was said in the Alma Motor case is equally applicable here:
We agree that much time has been wasted by the earlier failure of the parties to indicate, or the Circuit Court of Appeals or this Court to see, the course which should have been followed. This, however, is no reason to continue now on the wrong course. The principle of avoiding constitutional questions is one which was conceived out of considerations of sound judicial administration. It is a traditional policy of our courts.
329 U.S. at 142.
5. After discussing the different ways in which other courts have attempted to avoid applying the Consolidated Edison rule, the Court of Appeals said:
There is much force to these various suggestions, and perhaps we misconstrue the opinion of the Supreme Court. But we are bound by the opinion as we read it.
102 U.S.App.D.C. at 404, 254 F.2d at 323.
6. See Labor Board v. Crompton-Highland Mills, Inc., 337 U.S. 217, 221; Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. v. Labor Board, 313 U.S. 146, 155; Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of St. Louis v. Labor Board, 195 F.2d 955, 956; Labor Board v. Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corp., 145 F.2d 214, 215; Labor Board v. National Laundry Co., 78 U.S.App.D.C. 184, 185, 138 F.2d 589, 590; California Lumbermen's Council v. Federal Trade Comm'n, 115 F.2d 178, 183; Swift & Co. v. Labor Board, 106 F.2d 87, 91; Wilson & Co. v. Labor Board, 103 F.2d 243, 245.
7. Even the court below has not followed its conception of the Consolidated Edison rule consistently. Thus, on April 11, 1958, after the case had been remanded to the Board, the court ordered the Government to produce prior statements made by witness Budenz, even though the petitioner had not made a motion pursuant to § 14(a) for leave to adduce additional evidence when the Board initially denied a motion for production of the Budenz statements. It is difficult to understand why the court did not follow the same procedure with regard to the Gitlow memoranda, especially in view of the fact that petitioner did make a motion for production, pursuant to § 14(a), the second time that the case was remanded to the Board. Since the case was being remanded in any event, the court's refusal to grant the § 14(a) motion seems unreasonable.
8. The court's conclusion resulted from the Government's representation that Budenz had made no statements to the FBI concerning the Starobin and Weiner matters. However, in view of the following extract from the record, it would seem that the court should have pressed the inquiry further:
Q. Prior to your appearance before the Un-American Activities Committee, did vou tell the FBI about the Starobin letter?
A. That, I wouldn't recall.
Q. You don't recall that. You spent 100 hours with the FBI, or more, you said, before you went there?
A. Yes, but the FBI asked me a very great number of questions, and I answered their questions.
Q. But the Manuilsky business and the Starobin letter --
A. I may have told them, counselor. I say I do not recall. The thing is that --
Q. May I complete my question, please?
Q. The Starobin letter and the Manuilsky incident were supposed to be quite important in this setup that you got up against the Communist Party, was it not? You now say you don't recall whether you gave it to the FBI?
A. I don't recall the time. The FBI asked me a great number of questions. Undoubtedly if it were in my book, I must have given it to the FBI. The point of the matter is that the FBI, particularly at that period, and as a matter of fact this has been the general practice, asked me questions. I do not rush out and volunteer a lot of information, as a rule.
Q. But didn't you regard it as an important incident?
A. Oh, sure, it was important.
Q. As a matter of fact, you described it in your book, "This is My Story," as -- and I quote your language -- "the most sensational byproduct of the San Francisco conference." Did you not so describe it?
A. That, I think, was correct.
9. In this connection, it should be noted that, in three additional places in its Report, the Board found it necessary to explain seeming inconsistencies in Budenz' testimony. If the petitioner could have discredited Budenz' testimony on the basis of his prior statements, it is possible that the Board would have resolved these other discrepancies against Budenz and the Government.
10. The expansive lengths to which the Court has on occasion gone in construing a statute in a manner designed to avoid constitutional challenges is demonstrated by the decision in Scales v. United States, decided this day, post, p. 203. Certainly, the interpretation of this Act suggested by the petitioner would require far less legislative redrafting than the Court undertook to accomplish in Scales.
11. At this point, it should be observed that the vast bulk of the evidence introduced by the Government at the hearing before the Board related to the Party's activities prior to its disaffiliation from the Communist International in 1940. In order to link this stale evidence to the Party's current activities, with which the Act is concerned, the Board indulged in a presumption of continuity whereby it reasoned that, since the Party was under Soviet control prior to 1940, and since the Party still adheres to the principles of Soviet Communism, it must be presumed that the Party is still controlled by the Soviet Union. The validity of such a presumption is certainly dubious. However, if the Board is to be permitted to rely upon this presumption, the least to which the Party is entitled is that the record be free from serious procedural errors and that the findings upon which the Board rests its order be supported by some evidence.
12. I cannot agree with the theory of MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS that the nonconstitutional errors herein discussed are less important than the mere possibility of perjury which clouded the record in 1956 and which prompted the Court to remand the case to the Board at that time. For all we know, a cross-examination of Gitlow based on his prior memoranda, or a full cross-examination of Budenz based on his prior statements to the FBI and his testimony inconsistent therewith, might have disclosed further possibilities of perjury. Nor can I agree with the suggestion that, since Congress, in the Communist Control Act of 1954, branded the Communist Party as "an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States," 68 Stat. 775, the Board's hearings and findings are merely superfluous, and the nonconstitutional errors committed by the Board and the Court of Appeals are therefore unimportant. In the first place, this theory did not dissuade the Court from remanding to the Board in 1956 because of defects in the record. Moreover, there is nothing in the language or legislative history of the Communist Control Act of 1954 to indicate that Congress intended to repeal those provisions of the Subversive Activities Control Act which carefully delineate the Board's functions and describe the procedural mechanism by which the Board is to apply the Act.