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First Amendment Library:
John F. Davis


These cases present a narrow question with several related issues. May the Attorney General, as the executive head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service,[1] after taking into custody active alien Communists on warrants,[2] charging either membership in a group that advocates *527 the overthrow by force of this Government[3] or inclusion in any prohibited classes of aliens,[4] continue them in custody without bail, at his discretion pending determination as to their deportability, under § 23 of the *528 Internal Security Act?[5] Differing views of the Courts of Appeals led us to grant certiorari. 342 U. S. 807, 810.


This case, like No. 1, Scales v. United States, ante, p. 203, was brought here to test the validity of a conviction under the membership clause of the Smith Act. 361 U. S. 813. The case comes to us from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which affirmed petitioner's conviction in the District Court for the Western District of New York, after a jury trial. 262 F. 2d 501.


Our writ issued in this case (358 U. S. 917) to review a judgment of the Court of Appeals (260 F. 2d 21) affirming petitioner's conviction under the so-called membership clause of the Smith Act. 18 U. S. C. § 2385. The Act, among other things, makes a felony the acquisition or holding of knowing membership in any organization which advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force or violence.[1] The indictment charged that from January 1946 to the date of its filing (November 18, 1954) the Communist Party of the United States was such an organization, and that petitioner *206 throughout that period was a member thereof, with knowledge of the Party's illegal purpose and a specific intent to accomplish overthrow "as speedily as circumstances would permit."The validity of this conviction is challenged on statutory, constitutional, and evidentiary grounds, and further on the basis of certain alleged trial and procedural errors. We decide the issues raised upon the fullest consideration, the case having had an unusually long history in this Court.[2] For reasons given in this opinion we affirm the Court of Appeals.