Dombrowski v. Eastland

PETITIONER: Dombrowski
LOCATION: Gila County Youth Detention Center

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 387 US 82 (1967)
ARGUED: Feb 20, 1967
DECIDED: May 15, 1967

Facts of the case


Media for Dombrowski v. Eastland

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 20, 1967 in Dombrowski v. Eastland

Earl Warren:

Number 118, James A. Dombrowski et al., Petitioners, versus James Eastland et al.

Mr. Kinoy.

Arthur Kinoy:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case brings back to this Court questions arising out of the factual context of the illegal raids, arrests and seizures of the records and membership lists of our Southern Civil Rights Organization which was the background for this Court's decision in Dombrowski against Pfister in the October '64 term.

The complaint in this case charge the conspiracy between these respondents, Senator James Eastland, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Internal Security of the Senate and J.G. Sourwine, the committee counsel, and several Louisiana state officials including Mr. Pfister, the Chairman of Un-American Activities committee of the Louisiana -- joint committee of the Louisiana Legislature and several Louisiana police officers.

To -- under the cover of Louisiana anti-subversive laws, this is a law struck down as unconstitutional by this Court in Dombrowski, to utilize illegal police raids, arrests and seizures, all in violation of the Fourth Amendment in order of the complaint charges to seize records and lists of names of members and supporters of this civil rights organization which records and lists of names would have been impossible or extremely difficult for these legislative co-conspirators to obtain lawfully under this Court's own decisions in NAACP against Alabama to recently in Gibson against Florida as the Court is of course aware.

Since NAACP against Alabama, the Court has stressed constantly the chilling effect upon constitutional rights of citizen of a demand for list of names of supporters of Southern Negro Movements for Equality.

Now, the complaint charges that the plan and conspiracy was all for the purpose of harassing these plaintiffs and discouraging them and their supporters from asserting and attempting to vindicate the rights of Negro citizens of Louisiana in the Deep South.

The plaintiffs ask for damages and certain injunctive relief.

Abe Fortas:

What does the complaint say alleged that the two defendants did?

Arthur Kinoy:

The complaint alleges that they participated fully in this conspiracy.

Abe Fortas:

Where is that?

Arthur Kinoy:

That's in the first allegation, the general allegation Mr. Justice Fortas.

Abe Fortas:

All I saw in your complaint was sort of a conclusory allegation as distinguished from the allegation about other people with respect to these defendants.

I didn't see anything.

I don't remember anything except the allegation in paragraph 12 which appears on page 4.

Arthur Kinoy:

Now, in addition --

Abe Fortas:

That is that they entered into a planned agreement in conspiracy to deprive the plaintiffs of their rights, privileges and immunities.

Arthur Kinoy:

You're right, Justice Fortas.

That's the general allegation but there is a specific allegations also as to these particular respondents in paragraph 20 of the complaint, page 7, and paragraph 22 of the complaint, very specific allegations of activities on the part of these respondents in furthering the conspiracy --

Abe Fortas:

I understand that but what I'm saying is that as to the beginning of the conspiracy, the alleged conspiracy, the illegal seizure of documents --

Arthur Kinoy:

Those facts --

Abe Fortas:

-- the only allegation that you don't make any specific allegation with respect to that.

Arthur Kinoy:

That's right Justice Fortas.

Those very specific facts of their participation in the initiation of the conspiracy emerged in respondents' own motion for summary judgment, their own affidavits and the testimony of respondents Sourwine on deposition.

Very specific facts emerged as to their participation in what this Court called in the General Motors case, a joint collaboration in the initiation of the original conspiracy.

Those facts are very clear.

Abe Fortas:

Well, what was -- what was that as you understand it?

What was their participation in the initiation?

Arthur Kinoy:

Certainly, the facts which emerged from the affidavits and from their own respondent, Sourwine's testimony were these following facts.