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First Amendment Library:
Lee Pressman


The appeal is from a decision of the Supreme Court of Texas which denied appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus and remanded him to the custody of appellee, as sheriff of Travis County. 141 Tex. 591, 174 S.W.2d 958. In so deciding the court upheld, as against constitutional and other objections, appellant's commitment for contempt for violating a temporary restraining order issued by the District Court of Travis County. The order was issued ex parte and in terms restrained appellant, while in Texas, from soliciting members for or memberships in specified labor unions and others affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, without first obtaining an organizer's card as required by House Bill No. 100, c. 104, General and Special Laws of Texas, Regular Session, 48th Legislature (1943). After the order was served, appellant addressed a mass meeting of workers and at the end of his speech asked persons present to join a union. For this he was held in contempt, fined and sentenced to a short imprisonment.


The Hatch Act,[*] enacted in 1940, declares unlawful certain specified political activities of federal employees.[1] Section 9 forbids officers and employees in the executive branch of the Federal Government, with exceptions, from taking "any active part in political management or in political campaigns."[2] Section 15 declares that the activities *79 theretofore determined by the United States Civil Service Commission to be prohibited to employees in the classified civil service of the United States by the Civil Service Rules shall be deemed to be prohibited to federal employees covered by the Hatch Act.[3] These sections of the Act cover all federal officers and employees whether in the classified civil service or not and a penalty of dismissal from employment is imposed for violation. There is no designation of a single governmental agency for its enforcement.