Federal Immunity Laws and State Courts.

The operation of federal immunity acts15 to preclude the use in state courts of incriminating statements and testimony given by a witness before a committee of Congress or a federal grand jury16 illustrates direct federal preemption that is not contingent on state participation in a federal program. Because Congress in pursuance of its paramount authority to provide for the national defense, as complemented by the Necessary and Proper Clause, is competent to compel testimony of persons that is needed in order to legislate, it is competent to obtain such testimony over a witness’s self-incrimination claim by immunizing him from prosecution on evidence thus revealed not only in federal courts but in state courts as well.17


Immunity laws operate to compel witnesses to testify even over self-incrimination claims by giving them an equivalent immunity from prosecution. [Back to text]
Adams v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 179 (1954). [Back to text]
Ullmann v. United States, 350 U.S. 422, 434–436 (1956). See also Reina v. United States, 364 U.S. 507, 510 (1960). [Back to text]