Sweezy v. New Hampshire
354 U.S. 234 (1957)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957)

Sweezy v. New Hampshire

No. 175

Argued March 5, 1957

Decided June 17, 1957

354 U.S. 234

Syllabus

1. This case was brought here on appeal under 28 U.S.C. §1257(2); but the appellant has failed to meet his burden of showing that jurisdiction by appeal was properly invoked. Held: The appeal is dismissed. Treating the papers as a petition for certiorari under 28 U.S.C. § 2103, certiorari is granted. Pp. 354 U. S. 235-236.

2. In an investigation conducted by a State Attorney General, acting on behalf of the State Legislature under a broad resolution directing him to determine whether there were "subversive persons" in the State and to recommend further legislation on that subject, appellant answered most questions asked him, including whether he was a Communist; but he refused to answer questions related to (1) the contents of a lecture he had delivered at the State University, and (2) his knowledge of the Progressive Party of the State and its members. He did not plead his privilege against self-incrimination, but based his refusal to answer such questions on the grounds that they were not pertinent to the inquiry and violated his rights under the First Amendment. Persisting in his refusal when haled into a State Court and directed to answer, he was adjudged guilty of contempt. This judgment was affirmed by the State Supreme Court, which construed the term "subversive persons" broadly enough to include persons engaged in conduct only remotely related to actual subversion and done completely apart from any conscious intent to be a part of such activity. It also held that the need of the Legislature to be informed on the subject of self-preservation of government outweighed the deprivation of constitutional rights that occurred in the process. Held: on the record in this case, appellant's rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment were violated, and the judgment is reversed. Pp. 354 U. S. 235-267.

100 N.H. 103,121 A.2d 783, reversed.

Page 354 U. S. 235

For the opinions of the Justices constituting the majority of the Court, see:

Opinion of THE CHIEF JUSTICE, joined by MR. JUSTICE BLACK, MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, and MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, p. 354 U. S. 235.

Opinion of MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, joined by MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, concurring in the result, post, p. 354 U. S. 255.

For dissenting opinion of MR. JUSTICE CLARK, joined by MR. JUSTICE BURTON, see post, p. 354 U. S. 267.

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