Nelson v. Los Angeles County,
362 U.S. 1 (1960)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Nelson v. Los Angeles County, 362 U.S. 1 (1960)

Nelson v. Los Angeles County

No. 152

Argued January 13, 1960

Decided February 29, 1960

362 U.S. 1


Petitioners, when employees of a California County, were subpoenaed by and appeared before a Subcommittee of the House Un-American Activities Committee, but, in violation of specific orders of the County Board of Supervisors and the requirements of §1028.1 of the Government Code of California, refused to answer certain questions concerning subversion. The County discharged them on grounds of insubordination and violation of §1028.1. Nelson, a permanent employee, was given a Civil Service Commission hearing, which resulted in confirmation of his discharge. Globe, a temporary employee, was denied a hearing, since he was not entitled to it under the applicable rules. Both sued for reinstatement, contending that §1028.1 and their discharges violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but their discharges were affirmed by a California State Court.


1. In Nelson's case, the judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court. P. 362 U. S. 4.

2. Globe's discharge did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the judgment in his case is affirmed. Pp. 362 U. S. 4-9.

(a) Globe's discharge was not based on his invocation before the Subcommittee of his rights under the First and Fifth Amendments; it was based solely on insubordination and violation of §1028.1. P. 362 U. S. 6.

Page 362 U. S. 2

(b) Under California law, Globe had no vested right to county employment, and was subject to summary discharge. P. 362 U. S. 6.

(c) Globe's discharge was not arbitrary and unreasonable. Slochower v. Board of Education, 350 U. S. 551, distinguished. Beilan v. Board of Education, 357 U. S. 399, and Lerner v. Casey, 357 U. S. 468, followed. Pp. 362 U. S. 6-8.

(d) The remand on procedural grounds required in Vitarelli v. Seaton, 359 U. S. 535, has no bearing on this case. Pp. 362 U. S. 8-9.

163 Cal.App.2d 607, 329 P.2d 978, affirmed by an equally divided Court.

163 Cal.App. 2d 595, 329 P.2d 971, affirmed.

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