|Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Board
118 U.S.App.D.C. 117, 332 F.2d 317, reversed.
[ Brennan ]
[ Clark ]
Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Board
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
MR. JUSTICE CLARK, concurring.
I join in the opinion of the Court. The conclusion it reaches today was forecast in 1948. In response to the request of the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee for an expression of the views of the Department of Justice on H.R. 5852, a precursor of the Act here under attack, it was then pointed out that the "measure might be held . . . even to compel self-incrimination." [*]
This view was expressed in a letter over my signature as Attorney General which noted that the proposed legislation
would require every Communist political organization and every Communist-front organization to register. . . . In addition to information which would be required of both organizations in common, a Communist political organization would be obliged to disclose [p86] the names and addresses of its members in its registration statement. . . . In case of the failure of any organization to register in accordance with the measure, it would be the duty of the executive officer and the secretary of such organization to register in behalf of the organization. . . . A failure to register . . . subjects the organization and certain of its agents to severe penalties.
After consideration of other provisions of the bill, the letter advised that the Department of Justice had concluded that
the measure might be held (notwithstanding the legislative finding of clear and present danger) to deny freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly, and even to compel self-incrimination.
It also expressed the belief of the Department that
there would not be any voluntary registrations under the measure. Should a Communist organization fail to register, the burden to proceed would shift to the Attorney General . . . to prove that the organization is required to register.
As finally passed, the Act imposed a duty to register upon individual members after the refusal of the Communist Party to register and disclose its membership. Though not in H.R. 5852, about which the Department of Justice expressed constitutional doubts, this more pervasive registration requirement directly abridges the privilege of members against self-incrimination. I therefore join in this reversal.