Greene v. McElroy

LOCATION: Union Station

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 360 US 474 (1959)
ARGUED: Apr 01, 1959
DECIDED: Jun 29, 1959

Facts of the case


Media for Greene v. McElroy

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 01, 1959 (Part 2) in Greene v. McElroy

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 01, 1959 (Part 1) in Greene v. McElroy

Earl Warren:

Number 180, William L. Greene, Petitioner, versus Neil McElroy et al.

Carl W. Berueffy:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Berueffy.

Carl W. Berueffy:


Earl Warren:

Berueffy, yes.

Carl W. Berueffy:

This case, of course, involves the same issues in the main -- on the merits that are involved in Taylor against McElroy.

I think the best way to examine what is at issue here is to examine first what happened.

And if I may put this case in chronological order, I would summarize it as follows.

In 1936, this petitioner, William L. Greene graduated from New York University as an aeronautical engineer, a profession which has come to be of great importance in this country.

He went to work for Engineering and Research Company, a private corporation and the history of his rise in that corporation which, although not a large one, is a very substantial one, is almost spectacular.

Best summarized by saying that at 35 years of age, he became the Vice President and General Manager of that company.

And this could indicate nothing other than his devotion to the duties of his work and to his employer and to the Government and to the military services because that company came to be engaged almost entirely in military production.

Now, in 1942, he made a marriage with a girl to whom I shall have occasion to refer, I think, in the future, Jean Hinton without going into all of the details, could be said this was an unfortunate marriage for many reasons, and it terminated in 1947.

All of the charges with no exception relate in the Government's statement through the period beginning in 1942 and ending in 1947 or a very trivial contact continuing over into 1948.

Now, while this marriage was in existence, Mr. Greene was one of the people selected by the Air Force and by industry to go to Germany to see what could be discovered by way of German war secrets and war preparation.

He came back in 1947 or thereabouts, about the time of the termination of the marriage through the divorce.

The Navy and the Air Force was in great need of a device called the electronic flight simulator, a device which simulates for flight conditions for the purpose of training pilots in the handling of the planes.

The record shows that at least two companies had failed to produce this very necessary device.

And so, the Navy came to ERCO and Admiral Solberg, the Chief of Naval Research at the time, testified that one of the things that brought him to ERCO was the high caliber of the engineering staff which had been assembled by Mr. Greene in that company.

In 14 months, Mr. Greene made this device.

And this is the classified information about which we will be talking exclusively in this case, that is the material that went into the making of the electric flight simulator.

Now, in 1949, two years after the determination of these things that the Government says no, justify throwing him out of work, the Government gave him a clearance for access to top secret information.And two years later, in 1951, there was a proceeding to revoke his clearance for access to that information.

And this went and a procedure such as -- has been -- has been described to Your Honors here occurred before an organization then known as the Industrial Employment Review Board.

Potter Stewart:

How is the occasion for initiating that 1951 proceeding?

Carl W. Berueffy:

Well, there was so-called derogatory information, Mr. Justice Stewart.

And that was summarized by saying that he had known some Communists without naming them that he had seen some Russian diplomats that -- without naming them and that he had gone to a dinner of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare.

Potter Stewart:

Oh, I understood you to say that he had been cleared in 1949.

Carl W. Berueffy:

That's right.

Potter Stewart:

And then what was it that -- that led to the revocation of clearance in 1949 --

Carl W. Berueffy:

That, I couldn't say --