Carlson v. Landon
342 U.S. 524 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Carlson v. Landon, 342 U.S. 524 (1952)

Carlson v. Landon

No. 35

Argued November 26, 1951

Decided March 10, 1952*

342 U.S. 524

Syllabus

1. Under § 20(a) of the Immigration Act, as amended by § 23 of the Internal Security Act, the Attorney General may, in his discretion, hold in custody without bail, pending determination as to their deportability, aliens who are members of the Communist Party of the United States when there is reasonable cause to believe that their release on bail would endanger the safety and welfare of the United States. Pp. 342 U. S. 526-547.

2. The lack of a clause in the Constitution specifically empowering such action does not render Congress impotent to require the expulsion of resident alien Communists. Pp. 342 U. S. 533-537.

(a) So long as aliens fail to obtain and maintain citizenship by naturalization, they remain subject to the plenary power of Congress to expel them under the sovereign right to determine what noncitizens shall be permitted to remain within our borders. P. 342 U. S. 534.

(b) The doctrines and practices of Communism teach the use of force to achieve political control clearly enough to give constitutional basis, according to any theory of reasonableness or arbitrariness, for Congress to expel known alien Communists. Pp. 342 U. S. 534-536.

3. Under orders from the Acting Commissioner of Immigration, certain aliens were arrested under warrants issued after enactment of the Internal Security Act, charging them with being members of the Communist Party and directing that they be held in custody pending determination of deportability. They petitioned for habeas corpus. Respondent filed returns alleging that there was reasonable cause to believe that their release would endanger the welfare and safety of the United States. Later, he filed affidavits that the Service had evidence indicating that each petitioner was,

Page 342 U. S. 525

at the time of arrest, a member of the Communist Party, and had, since 1930, participated, or was then actively participating, in the Party's indoctrination of others to the prejudice of the public interest.

Held:

(a) The refusal of bail in these cases was not arbitrary or capricious, or an abuse of power, and did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 342 U. S. 537-542.

(1) The discretion as to bail vested in the Attorney General by the Internal Security Act was broad enough to justify petitioners' detention without bail as a menace to the public interest. Pp. 342 U. S. 537-541.

(2) There is no denial of due process under the Fifth Amendment in the detention of alien Communists without bail, pending determination of deportability, where there is reasonable cause to believe that their release on bail would endanger the safety and welfare of the United States. Pp. 342 U. S. 541-542.

(b) The delegation to the Attorney General of discretionary authority to detain such aliens without bail pending deportation hearings does not constitute an unlawful delegation of legislative power or violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, because the statute contains definite legislative standards for deportation and such authority is to be exercised within the framework of the Subversive Activities Control Act to guard against Communist activities pending deportation hearings. Pp. 342 U. S. 542-544.

(c) The Eighth Amendment does not require that bail be allowed in the circumstances of these cases. Pp. 342 U. S. 544-546.

4. Prior to enactment of the Internal Security Act, an alien Communist was arrested under a warrant charging that he was subject to deportation as an alien member of an organization advocating the violent overthrow of the Government, but he was released on bail. After the effective date of the Act, he was again taken into custody under the same warrant, and held without bail under an order from the Acting Commissioner of Immigration, based on §§ 22 and 23 of the Internal Security Act.

Held: he must be released unless, within a reasonable time, in the discretion of the court, he is rearrested under a new warrant. Pp. 342 U. S. 531, 342 U. S. 546-547.

187 F.2d 991, affirmed.

187 F.2d 802, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

No. 35. In habeas corpus proceedings, a district court held that respondent had not abused his discretion in ordering petitioners held without bail pending deportation

Page 342 U. S. 526

hearings. 94 F.Supp. 18. The Court of Appeals reversed. 186 F.2d 183. On rehearing and after introduction of certain evidence, the district court again sustained petitioners' detention without bail. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 187 F.2d 991. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 807. Affirmed, p. 342 U. S. 547.

No. 136. In a habeas corpus proceeding, the district court sustained detention of respondent without bail pending determination of deportability. The Court of Appeals reversed. 187 F.2d 802. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 810. Judgment vacated and cause remanded, p. 342 U. S. 547.

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