Barenblatt v. United States Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Defendant sought review of the judgment of the appellate court which affirmed his conviction for contempt of Congress arising from his refusal to answer certain questions put to him by a Subcommittee of the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the course of an inquiry concerning alleged Communist infiltration into the field of education.


Did the Alabama law violate the Thirteenth Amendment?


“The divided Court found that the Committee’s actions did not violate the First Amendment and, thus, upheld Barenblatt’s conviction for contempt of Congress. Justice Harlan noted that the First Amendment does not protect a witness from all lines of questioning. As long as the Congressional inquiry is pursued to “aid the legislative process” and to protect important government interests, then it is legitimate.”

Case Information

Citation: 360 US 109 (1959)
Argued: Nov 18, 1958
Decided: Jun 8, 1959
Case Brief: 1959