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First Amendment Library:
Joseph L. Rauh Jr.


The issues tendered in this case are the construction and, ultimately, the constitutionality of 18 U. S. C. § 610, an Act of Congress that prohibits corporations and labor organizations from making "a contribution or expenditure in connection with" any election for federal office. This is a direct appeal by the Government from a judgment of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan dismissing a four-count indictment that charged appellee, a labor organization, with having made expenditures in violation of that law. Appellee had moved to dismiss the indictment on the grounds (1) that it failed to state an offense under the statute and (2) that the provisions of the statute "on their face and as construed and applied" are unconstitutional. The district judge held that the indictment did not allege a statutory offense and that he was therefore not required to rule upon the constitutional questions presented. 138 F. Supp. 53. The case came here, 351 U. S. 904, under the Criminal Appeals Act of 1907, as amended, 18 U. S. C. § 3731.


This is a review by certiorari of a conviction under 2 U. S. C. § 192 for "contempt of Congress." The misdemeanor is alleged to have been committed during a *182 hearing before a congressional investigating committee. It is not the case of a truculent or contumacious witness who refuses to answer all questions or who, by boisterous or discourteous conduct, disturbs the decorum of the committee room. Petitioner was prosecuted for refusing to make certain disclosures which he asserted to be beyond the authority of the committee to demand. The controversy thus rests upon fundamental principles of the power of the Congress and the limitations upon that power. We approach the questions presented with conscious awareness of the far-reaching ramifications that can follow from a decision of this nature.