DOCKET NO.: 94-172
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
CITATION: 514 US 695 (1995)
ARGUED: Feb 21, 1995
DECIDED: May 15, 1995
Paul Morris – on behalf of the Petitioner
Richard P. Bress – on behalf of the Respondent
Richard P. Press – for respondent
Media for Hubbard v. United States
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – May 15, 1995 in Hubbard v. United States
William H. Rehnquist:
The opinion of the court in number 94-172, Hubbard v. United States will be announced by Justice Stevens.
John Paul Stevens:
The petitioner in this case was convicted of violating section 1001 of the United States Criminal Code.
The so called false statement statute because he made two untoward and false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding.
The statute applies the false statements that are made “in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency” of the federal government.
The question then is whether a Federal Bankruptcy Court is a department or agency.
40 years ago in a case known as United States against Bramblett, the court apply 1001 do a false statement made to congressional Dispersing Officer.
In that opinion the court construed the word department to cover all three branches of the federal government.
Thus, even though a court is not normally considered an agency or a department, Bramblett indicates that the court system has a whole is in fact the department of the federal government.
Over the past 30 years however the Courts of Appeals while recognizing at the reasoning in the Bramblett opinion treated the judiciary as a department.
Developed a judicial function exception, this exception distinguishes his false statements made in judicial proceedings which cannot give rise to criminal liability under 1001, from those maybe the court administrators which are covered by the statute.
In this case however the Courts of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit refuse to follow the judicial function exception and held that Bramblett required it to affirm petitioner’s conviction.
We granted certiorari to decide the faith of the judicial function exception.
Our review has convinced this that Bramblett was incorrectly decided.
Therefore we are really presented with the question whether we should overrule that case and thus eliminating the needfor any judicial function exception or hear to that decision not withstanding our conviction that was incorrectly decided.
If we were to reaffirmed Bramblett we would be require to repudiate the judicial function exception because it is unsupported by the text is a statute as construed in that case.
Because this is a sort of question about which reasonable judges often differ, it is not surprising, that our conclusion is not unanimous.
The majority of six justices has decided overrule a Bramblett, but for different reasons.
I have filed an opinion that explains our reasons for concluding the Bramblett was incorrectly decided but my explanation for overruling that case is joined only by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer.
Justice Scalia has filed an opinion concurring in Part and concurring in the Judgment that is joined by Justice Kennedy and the Chief Justice has filed a dissent that is joined by Justices O’Conner and Souter.