Ullmann v. United States - 350 U.S. 422 (1956)
U.S. Supreme Court
Ullmann v. United States, 350 U.S. 422 (1956)
Ullmann v. United States
Argued December 6, 1955
Decided March 26, 1956
350 U.S. 422
Pursuant to subpoena, petitioner appeared before a federal grand jury which was investigating attempts to endanger the national security by espionage and conspiracy to commit espionage. Invoking the privilege against self-incrimination, he refused to answer questions relating to his knowledge of such activities, to his and other persons' participation in such activities, and to his and other persons' membership in the Communist Party. Under the Immunity Act of 1954, 18 U.S.C. § 2486(c), the United States Attorney, with the approval of the Attorney General, applied to a Federal District Court for an order requiring petitioner to testify before the grand jury. The Court issued such an order; petitioner persisted in his refusal to testify, and he was convicted of contempt and sentenced to imprisonment.
Held: The Act is constitutional, and the conviction is sustained. Pp. 350 U. S. 423-439.
1. The Act does not violate the Fifth Amendment, because the immunity which it provides against prosecutions, penalties and forfeitures is sufficiently broad to displace the protection afforded by the privilege against self-incrimination. Pp. 350 U. S. 429-431.
2. Assuming that the statutory requirements are met, subsection (c) does not give a Federal District Court discretion to deny an application for an order requiring a witness to answer relevant questions put by a grand jury, and therefore it does not impose on the Court a nonjudicial function. Pp. 350 U. S. 431-434.
3. The Act provides immunity from state prosecution for crime; and, in doing so, it does not exceed the constitutional power of Congress. Pp. 350 U. S. 434-436.
221 F.2d 760, affirmed.