409 U.S. 929 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

SARNOFF v. SHULTZ , 409 U.S. 929 (1972)

409 U.S. 929

Irving SARNOFF et al.
George P. SHULTZ, Secretary of the Treasury, et al.
No. 71-1652.

Supreme Court of the United States

October 16, 1972

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN concurs, dissenting.

Petitioners brought this suit for an injunction against disbursements under certain sections of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. 22 U.S.C. 2318, 2360, 2364(a). Re-

Page 409 U.S. 929 , 930

spondents, as agents of the Chief Executive, made the disbursements in pursuit of our military venture in Vietnam.* Their request for a three- judge court was denied and the Court of Appeals affirmed, 457 F.2d 809, saying that the complaint tendered a 'political question' beyond judicial cognizance.

This would be a difficult case under the regime of Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, whose broad language denied a federal taxpayer standing to challenge the constitutionality of a federal statute. But Frothingham was greatly narrowed by our 1968 decision in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83. Flast held that federal taxpayers have standing if the constitutionality of the taxing or spending claims of Art. I, 8, of the Constitution were squarely involved and if the taxpayer can show that 'the challenged enactment exceeds specific constitutional limitations imposed upon the exercise of the congressional taxing and spending power and not simply that the enactment is generally beyond the power delegated to Congress by Art. I, 8.' Id., at 102-103.

In Flast the challenged expenditures were said to have violated the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. Here they are said to contravene the provision in Art. I, 8, cl. 11, which gives Congress the power to 'declare war.' No declaration of war has been made respecting Vietnam. Hence the question can be phrased in terms of the constitutionality of the use of funds to pursue a 'Presidential war.'

The action here, as in Flast, is a challenge by federal taxpayers of a violation of a specific constitutional provision. Actions of the Congress and of the Executive Branch are involved here as in Flast. The question is [409 U.S. 929 , 931]

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