Grumman v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: United State District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division

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

CITATION: 370 US 288 (1962)
ARGUED: Apr 19, 1962
DECIDED: Jun 18, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for Grumman v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 19, 1962 in Grumman v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 436, Frank Grumman, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Rein.

David Rein:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Petitioner here was indicted for refusing to answer four the questions put to him by a subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities on July 18th, 1957.

Prior to trial, petitioner's motion to dismiss counts 1, 2 and 4 of this indictment was granted and therefore, petitioner went to trial only on the remaining count, count 3.

This count, I would like to read it briefly from brief as it appears at page 4, alleged the refusal to answer the following question.

As a member of the Communist Party, when he, Mignon, was in the Communist Party, he said, "With you”, and in local term, he said that he sat in closed communist cell meetings with you.

Now, I will ask you whether or not he was telling the truth or was he telling a falsehood.

I would like to repeat again that this is the only count upon which petitioner went to trial and on which he was convicted.

I repeat what would appear to be obvious and repeat it again because this point seems to have escaped the court below completely which thought it was reviewing apparently a conviction on the counts which dismissed and I don't think the point is yet permeated to the Government, at least as far as I can see from its brief.

And I contend on the basis of the fact that we only have this count before the Court for review and these contentions really are we -- web into one another that this count 3 question was not pertinent to the announced subject under inquiry that the petitioner was given no explanation of the pertinency of that count, even though they objected to the pertinency of the count and finally related to these other points, the question had no legitimate legislative purpose and that there was no sufficient justification for the invasion of petitioner's privacy in First Amendment Rights.

John M. Harlan II:

He made a pertinency before?

David Rein:

Oh, yes, he did.

John M. Harlan II:

After --

David Rein:

Yes, he --

John M. Harlan II:

-- (Inaudible)

David Rein:

-- he made a pertinency objection by saying, "I don't think that the question is pertinent".

That appears, and if Your Honor would permit me, I would like to go into the context, the full context of the case and I will get to that point and read the exact language if I may defer that for a minute.

Now first, I like to point out that these hearings were being held pursuant to a formal resolution which was adopted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities Committee on July 10th of 1957.

And we have here what we do not normally have in inquiries by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and perhaps because of this Court's decision in Watkins case because these hearings were held shortly after it, we have an exact frame of reference as to what was that the Committee was concerned with.

I have set out for easy reference in my brief at page 4 the exact language of that resolution.

And you will note that the purpose of the resolution was to investigate whether or not members of the Communist Party or persons subject to its discipline are employed in various media of communications and it goes on with the purpose of determining whether or not we need remedial legislation at the present time to combat dangers of espionage or sabotage in the communications industry.

According to the Staff Director of the Committee, Mr. Arens, who testified at the trial, was the only witness of the trial, petitioner had been subpoenaed as a witness in this case on the basis of information the Committee had obtained from a Mr. Michael Mignon.

Mignon, according to Mr. Arens, was one of several to use the parlance of the Committee, they have great deal of parlance which is peculiar to the Committee, was one of what is called a friendly and cooperative witness.

Potter Stewart:

He is sapient?

David Rein:

Well, that's their terminology.

I don't say he's sapient.

I think it means friendly and cooperative.

I don't think there's (Voice Overlap)

Potter Stewart:

Then why -- why was it peculiar about the language?