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IN RE QUASH SUBPOENAS & VACATE SERV.

November 21, 1956

In re MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENAS AND VACATE SERVICE


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCILVAINE

On October 24, 1956, Representative Francis E. Walter, Chairman of the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives, directed the United States Marshal Albert DiMeolo at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to serve a subpoena, duces tecum, upon Bessie Steinberg to appear as Executive Secretary of the Western Pennsylvania Committee for Protection of Foreign Born before a Sub-Committee of the Committee on Un-American Activities to be held on November 28, 1956, at 10:00 a.m., at the United States Courthouse, Post Office Building, Youngstown, Ohio, which subpoena included the following duces tecum clause:

'You are hereby commanded, as Executive Secretary of the Western Pennsylvania Committee for Protection of Foreign Born, to bring with you and produce before said committee or a duly authorized subcommittee thereof, the following:

 '(1) All letters and copies of letters and all leaflets and documents of every nature whatsoever, incoming and outgoing, passing between the Western Pennsylvania Committee for Protection of Foreign Born, its officers and agents, and the American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born, its officers and agents, during the period January 1, 1953, to October 20, 1956, designed to revise, repeal and influence the revision or repeal of the (a) Smith Act; (b) Internal Security Act; and (c) Immigration and Nationality Act.

 '(2) Excerpts from the Minutes of all meetings of the Western Pennsylvania Committee for Protection of Foreign Born during the period January 1, 1953, to October 20, 1956, showing all action taken and all consideration given to proposals to revise, repeal and influence the revision or repeal of the (a) Smith Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 2385); (b) Internal Security Act (64 Stat. 987); and (c) Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C.A. § 1101 et seq.).'

 A subpoena from the Committee was also served upon Allan D. McNeil as Secretary of the Committee to End Sedition Laws, which subpoena carried the following duces tecum clause:

 'You are hereby commanded, as Secretary of the Committee to End Sedition Laws, to bring with you and produce before said committee or a duly authorized subcommittee thereof, the following:

 'Excerpts from all minutes of the Committee to End Sedition Laws during the period January 1, 1954, to October 20, 1956, showing all action taken and all considerations given to proposals to repeal the sedition statutes of the various States within the United States.'

 These subpoenas were served upon Miss Steinberg and Mr. McNeil in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they both are residents, on November 9, 1956.

 On November 20, 1956, a motion was filed on behalf of Allan D. McNeil and Bessie Steinberg to quash the subpoenas and vacate service. The Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives of the United States was not served with a copy of the motion, nor was there any attempt made to serve same on them.

 Because of the urgency of this matter and this being an attempt to restrain a legislative function of the Congress of the United States, this Court held a hearing on the motion on November 21, 1956. The petitioners were represented by counsel before the Court; however, the Committee was not represented.

 The motion of the petitioners to quash subpoenas and vacate service alleges that the Committee's subpoena is in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution which provides that: '* * * Congress shall make no law * * * abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,' and claim jurisdiction of this Court under authority of United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41, 73 S. Ct. 543, 97 L. Ed. 770.

 Under Public Law 601 of the 79th Congress, the Committee on Un-American Activities was created under Section 121 of Part II, relating to standing committees. The duties of the said committee are stated in said Act to be the following:

 'The Committee on Un-American Activities, as a whole or by subcommittee, is authorized to make from time to time investigations of (1) the extent, character, and objects of un-American propaganda activities in the United States, (2) the diffusion within the United States of subversive and un-American propaganda that is instigated from foreign countries or of a domestic origin and attacks the principle of the form of government as guaranteed by our Constitution, and (3) all other questions in relation thereto that would aid Congress in any necessary remedial legislation. * * *' 60 Stat. 828.

 Before this Court could quash a subpoena or make any order or decree, it must have jurisdiction of the persons or parties whom it would seek to affect or enjoin. Its apparent that the petitioners are seeking to quash a subpoena issued by the authority of a Congressional Committee. The petitioners are in effect asking this Court to enjoin the Committee from requiring the production of the documents called for in their subpoena. ...


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