St. Regis Paper Co. v. United States
368 U.S. 208 (1961)

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U.S. Supreme Court

St. Regis Paper Co. v. United States, 368 U.S. 208 (1961)

St. Regis Paper Co. v. United States

No. 47

Argued November 9, 1961

Decided December 11, 1961

368 U.S. 208

Syllabus

This is a civil action by the United States for (1) a mandatory injunction under § 9 of the Federal Trade Commission Act requiring petitioner to comply with orders of the Commission to file special reports containing specified information and documents, and (2) statutory forfeiture of $100 for each day petitioner was in default of those orders. Petitioner had filed only part of the informatlon called for by the Commission in connection with a formal investigation to determine whether petitioner's acquisitions of stock and assets of other corporations violated the antitrust laws. Among other items, it had declined to furnish its own file copies of reports filed with the Census Bureau on the ground that they were confidential. The District Court found that some of the orders were unenforceable because of vagueness and that others had been answered. It directed petitioner to answer the remaining ones, including those calling for copies of census reports; but it did not award the statutory forfeitures, because some of the orders were too vague to be enforced. The Court of Appeals affirmed insofar as the District Court ordered compliance; but it reversed that portion of the decision refusing to award the statutory forfeitures.

Held:

1. The Federal Trade Commission is entitled to obtain petitioner's own file copies of reports submitted by petitioner to the Census Bureau. Pp. 368 U. S. 215-220.

(a) Section 8 (a) of the Census Act, which grants the Secretary of Commerce discretion to furnish to certain authorities data taken from information furnished the Bureau on censuses of population, agriculture and housing, but provides that such data shall not be used by the recipient "to the detriment of the persons to whom such information relates," is inapplicable here, because the Commission has not been furnished any information by the Secretary and the information here involved does not relate to the particular censuses covered by that section. P. 368 U. S. 215.

(b) Section 9(a) of the Census Act, which forbids the use of information contained in census reports for other than statistical

Page 368 U. S. 209

purposes and forbids the improper publication or disclosure of such information, applies only to the Secretary and other officers and employees of the Department of Commerce. It does not generally prohibit the use of such information per se. Pp. 368 U. S. 215-219.

(c) By voluntarily submitting like data to the Federal Trade Commission during this investigation, petitioner did not waive its claim that its file copies of reports to the Census Bureau are confidential. P. 368 U. S. 217.

(d) The assurances of confidentiality by the President and the Census Bureau are not sufficient to extend the coverage of § 9(a). Pp. 368 U. S. 217-219.

(e) The fact that petitioner furnished certain information to the Census Bureau does not relieve it from furnishing the same information to the Federal Trade Commission, since § 132 of the Census Act provides that nothing therein contained "shall be deemed to revoke or impair the authority of any other Federal agency with reference to the collection or release of information." Pp. 368 U. S. 219-220.

2. The forfeiture imposed by § 10 of the Federal Trade Commission Act for failure to file "any annual or special report" is applicable, although the requested report is to include "answers in writing to specific questions." Pp. 368 U. S. 220-223.

3. Notwithstanding the fact that the District Court held that the Commission's orders were "partially defective," and decreed only partial compliance, forfeiture occurred because petitioner failed to comply with the valid requests; and the single daily penalty under § 10 began to run 30 days after notice of default on the first set of the Commission's orders, and it runs until the date of the stay granted by this Court. Pp. 368 U. S. 223-225.

(a) Partial invalidity of the Commission's orders did not prevent application of the forfeiture provision, since petitioner defied large parts of the orders instead of obtaining a separate judicial determination of the validity of the orders. P. 368 U. S. 224.

(b) Section 6 (c) of the Administrative Procedure Act authorized the procedure that the District Court followed in ordering partial compliance instead of striking the entire orders and requiring the Commission to issue new ones. Pp. 368 U. S. 224-225.

(c) In directing partial compliance, the District Court did not treat those items found enforceable as subpoenas, and therefore subject solely to contempt action. P. 368 U. S. 225.

Page 368 U. S. 210

(d) Once the Court of Appeals held that the default was within the forfeiture provision of §10, its penalties accrued, and it was not necessary to remand the case to the District Court for determination of whether the forfeiture should apply. P. 368 U. S. 225.

4. The petitioner, not having sought a judicial determination of the validity of the Commission's orders or a stay once this litigation had begun, cannot now say it was denied due process because it had no opportunity to prevent the running of the forfeitures pending a judicial test of the validity of the orders. Pp. 368 U. S. 225-227.

285 F. 2d 607, affirmed.

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