1. Where the Postmaster General has issued a fraud order under
39 U.S.C. §§ 259, 732, and later concludes that it is broader than
necessary to protect the public, he has power to modify the order
so as to make it less inclusive -- even though there be pending in
this Court at the time a review of a judgment of a federal court of
appeals affirming a judgment of a district court enjoining
enforcement of the order. Pp. 333 U. S.
2. The evidence in this case was sufficient to support the
finding of the Postmaster General that respondents' advertisements
of a so-called "puzzle contest" had been deliberately contrived to
divert readers' attention from material, but adroitly obscured
facts, and that respondents were conducting a scheme to obtain
money through the mails by means of false and fraudulent
representations in violation of 39 U.S.C. §§ 259, 732. Pp.
333 U. S.
3. The fraud order statutes, 39 U.S.C. §§ 259, 732, as
interpreted and applied by the Postmaster General in this case, are
constitutional. Public Clearing House v. Coyne,
194 U. S. 497
333 U.S. 189
81 U.S.App.D.C. 339, 158 F.2d 542, reversed.
Page 333 U. S. 179
The District Court enjoined enforcement of a fraud order issued
by the Postmaster General under 39 U.S.C. §§ 259, 732. 63 F. Supp.
318. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 81 U.S.App.D.C. 339, 158 F.2d
542. This Court granted certiorari, 331 U.S. 798, and substituted
Donaldson for Hannegan as petitioner. 332 U.S. 840. Reversed
and remanded to the District Court,
p. 333 U. S.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case presents questions as to the validity of an order
issued by petitioner, the Postmaster General, which directed that
mail addressed to some of respondents be returned to the senders
marked "Fraudulent," and that postal money order sums payable to
their order be returned to the remitters.
The respondent Publishers Service Company has conducted many
contests to promote the circulation of newspapers in which it has
advertised that prizes would be given for the solution of puzzles.
Through its corporate subsidiaries, respondents Literary Classics,
Inc., and Read Magazine, Inc., it publishes books and two monthly
magazines called Read
The place of
business is in New York City.
In 1945, respondents, to promote sales of their books, put on a
nationally advertised project known as the Facts Magazine Hall of
Fame Puzzle Contest. The
Page 333 U. S. 180
Postmaster General, after a hearing, found "upon evidence
satisfactory to him" that the "puzzle contest" was
"a scheme or device for obtaining money through the mails by
means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and
promises, in violation of sections 259 and 732 of title 39, United
States Code. . . ."
Specifically, the Postmaster General found that the
representations were false and fraudulent for two principal
reasons. First, that prospective contestants were falsely led to
believe that they might be eligible to win prizes upon payment of
$3 as a maximum sum when, in reality, the minimum requirement was
$9, and, as it later developed, they were finally called on to pay
as much as $42 to be eligible for increased prize offers. Second,
the Postmaster General found that, though the contest was
emphasized in advertisements as a "puzzle contest," it was not a
puzzle contest; that respondents knew from experience that the
puzzles were so easy that many people would solve all the "puzzles"
and that prizes would be awarded only as a result of a tie-breaking
letter-essay contest, and that contestants were deliberately misled
concerning all these facts by artfully composed advertisements.
The contest was under the immediate supervision of respondents
Henry Walsh Lee and Judith S. Johnson, editor-in-chief and "contest
editor," respectively, of Facts.
The Postmaster General's
original fraud order related to mail and money orders directed
"Puzzle Contest, Facts Magazine; Contest Editor, Facts Magazine;
Judith S. Johnson, Contest Editor; Miss J. S. Johnson, Contest
Editor; Contest Editor; Facts Magazine, and Henry Walsh Lee, Editor
in Chief, Facts Magazine, and their officers and agents as such at
New York, New York."
Respondents filed a complaint in the United States District
Court for the District of Columbia to enjoin enforcement of the
order. They alleged its invalidity on
Page 333 U. S. 181
the grounds that there was no substantial evidence to support
the Postmaster General's findings of fraud, and that the statutory
provisions under which the order was issued authorize the
Postmaster General to act as a censor, and hence violate the First
Amendment. The District Court issued a temporary restraining order,
but directed that, pending further orders, respondents should
deposit in court all moneys and the proceeds of all checks and
money orders received through the mails as qualifying fees for the
Hall of Fame Puzzle Contest. After a hearing, the respondents'
motion for summary judgment was granted on the ground that the
findings were not supported by substantial evidence. 63 F. Supp.
318. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia affirmed on the same ground, one judge dissenting. 81
U.S.App.D.C. 339, 158 F.2d 542. We granted certiorari.
The case has been twice argued in this Court. Briefs of both
parties on the first argument dealt only with the question of
whether the Postmaster General's findings of fraud were supported
by substantial evidence. But, assuming validity of the findings,
questions arose during the first oral argument concerning the scope
of the fraud order. That order had included a direction to the New
York postmaster to refuse to deliver any mail or to pay any money
orders to Facts,
its officers and agents, including its
editor in chief, who was also editor of Read.
monthly magazines, both published in New York, had an aggregate
circulation of nearly five hundred thousand copies. We were told
the total deprivation of the right of Facts
and of the
editor of the two magazines to receive mail and to cash money
orders would practically put both magazines out of business.
See Milwaukee Publishing Co. v. Burleson, 255 U.
. Furthermore, the order was of indefinite
duration, and Facts
and its affiliates have made a
business of conducting contests to promote the circulation of
Page 333 U. S. 182
and magazines. The order, if indefinitely enforced, might have
resulted in barring delivery of mail and payment of money orders in
relation to other nonfraudulent contests, as well as legitimate
magazine business. All of the foregoing raised questions about the
validity and scope of the original order, if unmodified, which we
deemed of sufficient importance to justify further argument. For
that reason, we set the case down for reargument, requesting
parties to discuss the validity and scope of the order, and
whether, if invalid by reason of its scope, it could be so modified
as to free it from statutory or constitutional objections.
Thereafter, and before reargument, the Postmaster General
revoked the order insofar as it applied to Facts
its editor-in-chief, and its officers and agents.
Page 333 U. S. 183
As modified, the order bars delivery of mail and payment of
money orders only to addressees designated in the contest
"Puzzle Contest, Facts Magazine; Contest Editor, Facts Magazine;
Judith S. Johnson, Contest Editor; Miss J. S. Johnson, Contest
Editor; Contest Editor."
The Postmaster General, so we are informed, does not construe
the modified order as forbidding delivery of mail or payment of
money orders to Facts magazine, or even to Miss Judith (J. S.)
Johnson, individually. So construed, the order is narrowly
restricted to mail and money orders sent in relation to the Hall of
Fame Puzzle Contest found fraudulent, and would not bar deliveries
to the magazines, to their editor, or to the three corporate
respondents. It would bar deliveries to Judith (J. S.) Johnson,
only if sent to her at the designated address and in her capacity
as "Contest Editor." Likewise, the District Court's order
impounding funds is limited to qualifying fees received in the Hall
of Fame Puzzle Contest. If the Postmaster General's action in
modifying the order is valid, the questions we asked to have argued
have largely been eliminated from the original order.
Respondents' contentions now are: (1) The Postmaster General
lacked power to modify his original fraud order, and hence that
order remains subject to any and all of its original infirmities.
(2) The findings on which the order is based are not supported by
substantial evidence. (3) The statutes under which the order was
issued violate various constitutional provisions.
Respondents' contention that the Postmaster
General was without power to modify the order by elimination of
magazine, its editor, and its officers and agents is
based almost entirely on their two other grounds for asserting
invalidity of the order. Of course, if the order were wholly
invalid as to all of the respondents for these reasons, it could
not have been validated
Page 333 U. S. 184
merely by eliminating some of them from its terms. But, laying
aside respondents' other contentions for the moment, we have no
doubt as to the Postmaster General's authority to modify the fraud
Having concluded that the original order was broader than
necessary to reach the fraud proved, the Postmaster General not
only possessed the power, but he had the duty, to reduce its scope
to what was essential for that purpose. The purpose of mail fraud
orders is not punishment, but prevention of future injury to the
public by denying the use of the mails to aid a fraudulent scheme.
See Comm'r v. Heininger, 320 U. S. 467
320 U. S. 474
Such orders, if too broad, could work great hardships and inflict
unnecessary injuries upon innocent persons and businesses. No
persuasive reason has been suggested why the Postmaster General
should be without power to modify an order of this kind. Such an
order is similar to an equitable injunction to restrain future
conduct, and, like such an injunction, should be subject to
modification whenever it appears that one or more of the restraints
imposed are no longer needed to protect the public. United
States v. Swift & Co., 286 U. S. 106
286 U. S. 114
see Skinner & Eddy Corp. v. United States,
249 U. S. 557
249 U. S.
Furthermore, the modification here involved was for respondents'
benefit; it gave them a part of the very relief for which they
prayed. It removed the ban against delivery of mail and payment of
money orders to their magazine, its editor, and its agents -- a ban
which we were told would have done them irreparable injury if left
in effect. The possibility that another order might be entered
against the eliminated respondents is too remote to require us to
consider the original order as though the modification had never
been made. See United States v. Hamburg-American S.S. Co.,
239 U. S. 466
239 U. S.
Page 333 U. S. 185
Nor does the modification subject respondents to any
disadvantage in this case in reference to the impounded funds.
Those funds are sums sent in as qualifying fees for the scheme
found fraudulent. They are in court custody because of the court's
restraining order; but for it, they would have been returned to the
senders as ordered by the Postmaster General. Now, as before the
fraud order was modified, their disposition is dependent entirely
upon the validity of the finding of fraud. Respondents could thus
claim the funds only by asserting a right growing out of the scheme
found fraudulent. The court, having lawful command of such funds,
must allocate them to the remitters if the order is valid. See
Inland Steel Co. v. United States, 306 U.
, 306 U. S.
-158; United States v. Morgan, 307 U.
, 307 U. S.
Respondents contend that there was no
substantial evidence to support the Postmaster General's findings
that they had represented that prizes could be won (1) on payment
of only three dollars as contest fees or (2) by the mere solution
of puzzles. The say that the very advertisements and circular
letters to contestants from which these inferences were drawn by
the Postmaster General contained language which showed that the
first $3 series of puzzles might result in ties, making necessary a
second, and maybe a third, $3 puzzle series, and that, if these
three efforts failed to determine the prize winners, they would
then be selected on the basis of competitive letters, written by
the tied contestants on the subject "The Puzzle I Found Most
Interesting and Educational in This Contest."
There were sentences in the respondents' advertisements and
communications which, standing alone, would have conveyed to a
careful reader information as to the nine-dollar fees and the
letter essay feature of the contest. Had these sentences stood
alone, doubtless the
Page 333 U. S. 186
fraud findings of the Postmaster General would not have been
justified. But they did not stand alone. They were but small and
inconspicuous portions of lengthy descriptions used by respondents
to present their contest to the public in their advertisements and
letters. In reviewing fraud findings of the Postmaster General,
neither this Court nor any other is authorized to pick out parts of
the advertisements on which respondents particularly rely, decide
that these excerpts would have supported different findings, and
set aside his order for that reason. We consider all the contents
of the advertisements and letters, and all of the evidence, not to
resolve contradictory inferences, but only to determine if there
was evidence to support the Postmaster General's findings of fraud.
Leach v. Carlile, 258 U. S. 138
258 U. S.
Respondents' advertisements were long; their form letters to
contestants discussing the contest, its terms, and its promises
were even longer than the advertisements. Paradoxically, the
advertisements constituted, at the same time, models of clarity and
of obscurity -- clarity in referring to prizes and to a "puzzle
contest," obscurity in referring to a remote possibility of a
letter-essay contest. In bold type, almost an inch high, their
advertisements referred to "$10,000 FIRST PRIZE PUZZLE CONTEST."
Time after time, they used the words "puzzle" and "puzzle contest."
Conspicuous pictures of sample "puzzles" covered a large part of a
page. Rebus "puzzles" Nos. 1 to 4 of the contest were there. An
explanation of what each represented appeared above it. The first,
it was explained, represented "the inventor of the phonograph and
electric light," the second "a Republican President who became
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court." The last two contained equally
helpful clues to the "puzzles." The advertisements left no doubt
that the contest presented an opportunity to win large prizes in
Page 333 U. S. 187
with solution of puzzles, which puzzles, to say the least, would
not be too taxing on the imagination.
Readers who might have felt some reluctance about paying their
money to enter an essay contest were not so impressively and
conspicuously informed about that prospect; here, the advertisement
became a model of obscurity. In the lower left corner of one of the
advertising pages appeared the "Official Rules of the Contest," to
which rules references were carefully placed in various parts of
the advertisement, and which were printed, as the District Court's
opinion observed, "in small type." There were ten rules. About the
middle of Rule 9 appeared the only reference to the possible need
for letters as a means of breaking ties. And it is impossible to
say that the Postmaster General drew an unreasonable inference in
concluding that competitive letter-writing thus obscuredly referred
to was mentioned only as a remote and unexpected contingency. The
same kind of obscurity and doubt occurs in reference to the cost of
the contest. The District Court, in an opinion holding that the
Postmaster General's findings were not supported by the evidence,
had this to say about one advertisement which was widely used:
"Indeed, the advertisement is by no means a model of clarity and
lucidity. It is diffuse and prolix, and at times somewhat obscure.
Many of its salient provisions are printed in rather small type. An
intensive and concentrated reading of the entire text is
indispensable in order to arrive at an understanding of the entire
scheme. Nevertheless, a close analysis of this material discloses
the complete plan. Nothing is omitted, concealed or misrepresented.
There is no deception. The well founded criticisms of the
plaintiffs' literature are a far cry from justifying a conclusion
that the announcement was a fraud on
Page 333 U. S. 188
the public. . . . The conclusion is inevitable that there is no
evidence to support the finding of fact on which the fraud order is
based, and that therefore the plaintiff is entitled to a permanent
injunction against the enforcement of the order."
We agree with the District Court that many people are
intellectually capable of discovering the cost and nature of this
contest by "intensive and concentrated reading" and by close
analysis of these advertisements. Nevertheless, we believe that the
Postmaster General could reasonably have concluded, as he did, that
the advertisements and other writings had been artfully contrived
and composed in such manner that they would confuse readers,
distract their attention from the fact that the scheme was in
reality an essay contest, and mislead them into thinking that they
were entering a "rebus puzzle" contest in which prizes could be won
by an expenditure of not more than $3. That respondents' past
experience in similar contests enabled them to know at the
beginning that essay writing, not puzzle solutions, would determine
prize winners is hardly controvertible on this record. That
experience was borne out in this contest by the fact that, of the
90,000 contestants who submitted answers to the first series of 80
puzzles, 35,000 solved all of them, and, of that number, 27,000
completed the first set of "tie-breaking puzzles" when the fraud
order was issued. Under the circumstances, to advertise this as a
puzzle contest, instead of what it actually was, cannot be
attributed to a mere difference in "nomenclature;" such conduct
falls far short of that fair dealing of which fraud is the
Advertisements as a whole may be completely misleading although
every sentence separately considered is literally true. This may be
because things are omitted that should be said, or because
advertisements are composed or purposefully printed in such way as
to mislead. Wiser
Page 333 U. S. 189
v.Lawler, 189 U. S. 260
189 U. S. 264
Farley v. Simmons,
69 U.S.App.D.C. 110, 99 F.2d 343, 346;
cases collected in 6 Eng.Rul.Cas. 129-131. That
exceptionally acute and sophisticated readers might have been able
by penetrating analysis to have deciphered the true nature of the
contest's terms is not sufficient to bar findings of fraud by a
factfinding tribunal. Questions of fraud may be determined in the
light of the effect advertisements would most probably produce on
ordinary minds. Durland v. United States, 161 U.
-313-314; Wiser v.Lawler, supra,
189 U. S. 264
Oesting v. United States,
234 F. 304, 307. People have a
right to assume that fraudulent advertising traps will not be laid
to ensnare them. "Laws are made to protect the trusting, as well as
the suspicious." Federal Trade Comm'n v. Standard Education
Society, 302 U. S. 112
302 U. S.
The Postmaster General found that respondents' advertisements
had been deliberately contrived to divert readers' attention from
material but adroitly obscured facts. That finding has substantial
support in the evidence. The District Court and the Court of
Appeals were wrong in holding the evidence insufficient.
It is contended that §§ 259 and 732 of 39
U.S.C., the sections under which this order was issued, are in
conflict with various constitutional provisions and that the
statutes should be held unenforceable for this reason.
Specifically, it is argued that the sections authorize a prior
censorship, and thus violate the First Amendment; authorize
unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth
Amendment; violate the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment;
deny the kind of trial guaranteed in criminal proceedings by the
Sixth Amendment and by Art. III, § 2, cl. 3, and inflict unusual
punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
In 1872 Congress first authorized the Postmaster General to
forbid delivery of registered letters and payment of
Page 333 U. S. 190
money orders to persons or companies found by the Postmaster
General to be conducting an enterprise to obtain money by false
pretenses through the use of the mails. 17 Stat. 322-323, 39 U.S.C.
§ 732. In the same statute, Congress made it a crime to place
letters, circulars, advertisements, etc., in the mails for the
purpose of carrying out such fraudulent artifices or schemes. 17
Stat. 323, 18 U.S.C. § 338. In 1889, Congress declared
"nonmailable" letters and other matters sent to help perpetrate
frauds. 25 Stat. 874, 39 U.S.C. § 256. In 1895 the Postmaster
General's fraud order powers were extended to cover all letters or
other matters sent by mail. 28 Stat. 964, 39 U.S.C. § 259. And
Congress has passed many more statutes, such, for illustration, as
the Securities Act of 1933, 48 Stat. 77, 906, 15 U.S.C. § 77e, and
the Federal Trade Commission Act, as amended, 52 Stat. 114, 15
U.S.C. § 52, to protect people against fraudulent use of the
All of the foregoing statutes, and others which need not be
referred to specifically, manifest a purpose of Congress to utilize
its powers, particularly over the mails and in interstate commerce,
to protect people against fraud. This governmental power has always
been recognized in this country, and is firmly established. The
particular statutes here attacked have been regularly enforced by
the executive officers and the courts for more than half a century.
They are now a part and parcel of our governmental fabric. This
Court, in 1904, in the case of Public Clearing House v.
Coyne, 194 U. S. 497
sustained the constitutional power of Congress to enact the laws.
The decision there rejected all the contentions now urged against
the validity of the statutes in their entirety, insofar as the
present contentions have any possible merit. No decision of this
Court, either before or after the Coyne
questioned the power of Congress to pass these
Page 333 U. S. 191
laws. The Coyne
case has been cited with approval many
Recognizing that past decisions of this Court, if adhered to,
preclude acceptance of their contentions, respondents urge that
certain of our decisions since the Coyne
partially undermined the philosophy on which it rested. Respondents
refer particularly to comparatively recent decisions under the
First and Fourteenth Amendments. [Footnote 2
] None of the recent cases to which respondents
refer, however, provides the slightest support for a contention
that the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom
of the press include complete freedom, uncontrollable by Congress,
to use the mails for perpetration of swindling schemes.
We reject the contention that we should overrule the
case and declare these fraud order statutes to be
wholly void and unenforceable.
An additional argument urged by respondents is that the fraud
order statutes, as interpreted and applied by the Postmaster
General in this case, violate some of the constitutional provisions
above mentioned. We consider this suggestion only in connection
with the modified order. Its future effect is merely to enjoin the
continuation of conduct found fraudulent. Carried no further than
this, the order has not even a slight resemblance to punishment --
it only keeps respondents from getting the money of others by false
pretenses, and deprives them of a right to speak or print only to
the extent necessary to protect others from their fraudulent
artifices. And, so far as the impounding order is concerned, of
course, respondents can have no just or legal claim to money
Page 333 U. S. 192
mailed to them as a result of their fraudulent practices. Nor
does the modified order jeopardize respondents' magazine except to
the extent, if any, that its circulation might be dependent on
monies received from this contest scheme found fraudulent. A
contention cannot be seriously considered which assumes that
freedom of the press includes a right to raise money to promote
circulation by deception of the public.
The order, as modified, is valid, and its enforcement should not
have been enjoined. The judgments of the United States Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia and of the District Court are
reversed. The cause is remanded to the District Court to dismiss
the petition for injunction and to provide for proper return to the
remitters of the impounded funds sent in response to the fraudulent
advertisements and communications.
It is so ordered.
"This case is ordered restored to the docket for reargument. On
reargument, counsel need not further discuss the sufficiency of the
evidence to support the Postmaster General's findings. They are
requested to discuss the following:"
"1. Does the fraud order prohibit delivery of mail and postal
money orders to Facts Magazine and all its employees, including its
editor-in-chief? If so,"
"(a) Is the order within the Postmaster General's authority
under 39 U.S.C. Secs. 259, 732?"
"(b) If so, do these code provisions, in violation of the First
Amendment or any other constitutional provisions, abridge the
freedom of speech or press of either the senders or the sendees of
the mail or the money order?"
"2. Does the fraud order prohibit indefinitely the delivery of
mail or money orders which relate to subject matters or contests
other than the contest on which the order is based? If so,"
"(a) Is the order within the Postmaster General's statutory
"(b) If so, are these code provisions in conflict with the
Constitution of the United States?"
"3. Assuming that the order is in conflict with the code
provisions or the Constitution, can it be modified in such way as
to free it from statutory or constitutional objections? If so, by
whom can the order be modified, and by what procedure?"
Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.
, 297 U. S.
-249; Near v. Minnesota ex rel. Olson,
283 U. S. 697
283 U. S. 713
et seq.; Bridges v. California, 314 U.
, 314 U. S.
-263; Craig v. Harney, 331 U.
; Milwaukee Publishing Co. v. Burleson,
255 U. S. 407
MR. JUSTICE BURTON, with whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS concurs,
The two lower courts reviewed in detail the facts in this case.
Both held that the predecessor of the present Postmaster General
exceeded his authority in issuing his stringent order of October 1,
1945. The modification of that order on December 8, 1947, by the
present Postmaster General, then serving as Acting Postmaster
General, has restricted it to appropriate parties. It has not
altered, however, the primary basis for the lower court's
injunction of November 27, 1945, against the enforcement of the
order. That injunction was granted because the record failed to
show evidence sufficient to justify the drastic administrative
action taken in reliance upon the lottery and fraud sections of the
mail and money order statutes. R.S. §§ 3929 and 4041, as amended,
26 Stat. 466, 28 Stat. 964, 39 U.S.C. §§ 259 and 732. This
Page 333 U. S. 193
protests the overruling of the conclusions of the lower courts
on this issue, and seeks especially to discourage any increase, or
even repetition, of the degree of censorship evidenced by this
The former Postmaster General applied here the drastic summary
police powers entrusted to his office by Congress to deal with
fraudulent swindlers using the mail in the conduct of lotteries or
any other scheme for obtaining money by false or fraudulent
pretenses. No charge of a lottery or scheme of chance was made the
basis for the order before us. This particular puzzle and
letter-writing contest, to which the order was limited, was a
contest of the familiar type which offers prizes, and thereby seeks
to attract protects for later sales. The sponsor candidly stated
that this contest was conducted for advertising purposes, and it
distributed to the contestants samples from a series of books
published by its subsidiary, Literary Classics, Inc. The entrance
fees of 15 cents, required to accompany the respective sets of
puzzle solutions, might well add up to more than all the expenses
of the program, including the substantial prizes, provided the
responses were many. Such fees, however, would fail to meet those
expenses if the responses were few. The financial success of the
contest depended upon the number of volunteers choosing to enter
The District Court found:
"These considerations . . . do not justify an inference of
fraud. Under no circumstances therefore can the puzzle contest and
its descriptive literature be considered a fraudulent device or
strategem [stratagem] for obtaining money. The conclusion is
inevitable that there is no evidence to support the finding of fact
on which the fraud order is based, and that therefore the plaintiff
is entitled to a permanent injunction against the enforcement of
Read Magazine v. Hannegan,
63 F. Supp. 318, 322.
Page 333 U. S. 194
The Court of Appeals found:
"Appellant does not claim that any statement in the
advertisements was untrue, or that there was any departure from the
procedure announced in the Official Rules of the Contest. There is
no claim by him that the judging of the letters was to be other
than bona fide,
or that any contestant failed to receive
the promised books. No contestant, so far as the record shows,
complained of being misled or defrauded. In other words, the fraud
order is not premised upon specific or affirmative misstatements,
or upon failure to perform as promised, but is premised upon an
impression which appellant says is conveyed by the advertisements
as a whole. He derives the impression from the headlines in the
advertisements and the comparative urgency which he finds in some
of the expressions in them."
"* * * *"
"To support appellant's conclusion in this case, one must
ascribe to the advertisements an impression directly contrary to
the stated rules of the contest. One must thus assume that readers
were led not to read the Rules, or were led to ignore them, or to
misunderstand them, or to believe something else contrary to their
statement. There is no evidence, we think, to support any of those
assumptions. The Rules were legibly printed. They were emphasized,
rather than minimized, in the text. They were clear to any
reasonable mind. No contradictory expressions occurred
"That this contest was an advertising device designed to promote
the book publishing business of appellees must have been plain to
the most casual reader. The advertisements specifically told him,
'This contest with FACTS MAGAZINE as sponsor,
Page 333 U. S. 195
being presented as a means of popularizing the Literary Classics
Book Club.' . . ."
"We fail to see that the letters which were written to the
contestants who successfully solved the first series of puzzles
cast any complexion upon the venture different from that cast by
the original advertisements themselves."
"* * * *"
"We think that the advertisements before us fairly urged
contestants to read the Rules, and that the Rules stated fairly, in
style of type, placement, and terms, what was proposed. That being
so, and there being no ambiguity in or departure from the proposals
stated, a finding of false pretenses, representations, or promises
could not properly be made."
Hannegan v. Read Magazine,
81 U.S.App.D.C. 339, 158
F.2d 542, 544, 545, 546.
Not only do I fail to find adequate reason to overrule the
findings and conclusions of the two lower courts, but, on
examination of the record, I agree with them. I believe that the
Postmaster General exceeded his authority when he applied his
drastic censorship and fraud order to this particular program.
There was no compulsion on anyone to enter this contest. Everyone
who did so received, as advertised, certain reprints of classical
literature, and, until the contest was stopped, each contestant had
the advertised opportunity to win certain cash prizes.
Anyone who entered this contest to win substantial prizes by
doing so little to win them should at least examine the exact terms
of the contest and make himself responsible for meeting the rules
prescribed by those offering to make the gifts he sought. The
contestants rendered no services for which they had a right to
compensation. They merely paid a small entrance fee. For that, they
were entitled to have the contest conducted in accordance with the
Page 333 U. S. 196
The findings of the lower courts make it clear that there has
been no claim of failure or impending failure by the sponsor to
carry out the terms of the contest. The record shows no complaint
from any contestant. Nevertheless, the Postmaster General took it
upon himself to stop the contest. On the evidence before him and
before the courts, this was an abuse of his discretion. It was
"palpably wrong, and therefore arbitrary." See Leach v.
Carlile, 258 U. S. 138
258 U. S.