DeGregory v. Attorney Gen. of New Hampshire,
383 U.S. 825 (1966)

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U.S. Supreme Court

DeGregory v. Attorney Gen. of New Hampshire, 383 U.S. 825 (1966)

DeGregory v. Attorney General of New Hampshire

No. 396

Argued February 24, 1966

Decided April 4, 1966

383 U.S. 825


Appellee made an investigation under a statute authorizing him as Attorney General of New Hampshire to investigate whenever he had information he deemed reasonable relating to "violations" covering a wide range of "subversive" activities designed to overthrow the constitutional form of the State's government. Appellant, answering questions relating to the period since 1957, stated that he did not serve in a subversive role, and lacked knowledge of current subversion. He refused, without asserting the privilege against self-incrimination, to answer questions about earlier periods which respondent asked in reliance on a 1955 report connecting appellant with the Communist Party only up to 10 years before the investigation. The trial court found appellant guilty of contempt, and the State Supreme Court affirmed.

Held: On the record here, the State's interest in protecting itself against subversion is too remote to override appellant's First Amendment right to political and associational privacy. Pp. 383 U. S. 828-830.

(a) No attack is made on the truthfulness of appellant's testimony that he had not been involved with the Communist Party since 1957 and had no knowledge of Communist activities during that period. P. 383 U. S. 829.

(b) The staleness of the basis for the investigation and the subject matter, which was of historical, rather than current, interest, made indefensible compelled disclosure of appellant's political and associational past. P. 383 U. S. 829.

(c) The First Amendment protects that privacy, and it may not be breached where there is no showing of a compelling state interest. P. 383 U. S. 829.

(d) There is no evidence here of any Communist movement in New Hampshire or showing of danger of sedition to the State, and thus no "nexus" between appellant and subversive activities in the State. Uphaus v. Wyman, 360 U. S. 72, distinguished. Pp. 383 U. S. 829-830.

106 N.H. 262, 209 A.2d 712, reversed.

Page 383 U. S. 826

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