In re Anastaplo

PETITIONER: In Re Anastaplo
LOCATION: John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 366 US 82 (1961)
ARGUED: Dec 14, 1960
DECIDED: Apr 24, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for In re Anastaplo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 14, 1960 (Part 2) in In re Anastaplo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 14, 1960 (Part 1) in In re Anastaplo

Earl Warren:

In re George Anastaplo, Petitioner.

Mr. Anastaplo, you may proceed with your argument.

George Anastaplo:

Thank you, sir.

And may it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari in the State of Illinois with respect to my application for admission to the bar.

I should like to divide my argument into four parts.

First, which I attempt the brief survey of the facts of the case, second, to proceed -- to analysis for the character and fitness evidence in the case.

Third, to a consideration of one of the reasons for the refusal of the State Bar authorities to abide by the character and fitness evidence, as I see it, and second -- and the fourth part attempt to discuss the second of the two reasons that are given.

I kind of hope to do more and to consider quickly some of the matters which I have -- perhaps rather exhaustedly discussed in my brief.

Let me say at the outset, in -- in doing so, a quote from my brief that is well to emphasize which should be apparent from the statement into the case and to the facts which I will narrate.

The question of membership to Communist --


George Anastaplo:

I'm sorry.

The question of membership in the Communist Party are in the Ku Klux Klan is not an issue in this bar admission case.

But at most, only the effect in the bar admission proceeding of a conscientious refusal to answer in parties about such membership when it's conceded that there is no allegation or evidence in membership when the inquiries occur only in the context of badgering about philosophical and political views, particularly views about the right through -- about the right of revolution, and when silence is couched in a form of refusal to submit to something deemed by the applicant to be in the nature of the test oath and to be improper ungentlemanly and unconstitutional inquiry.

This case began 10 years ago in November of 1950 when the occasion of my appearance -- my first appearance before the Bar Admission Committee in Chicago.

At that time, the questions that were being asked of bar applicants were concerned mostly with what is traditionally considered to be character and fitness matters.

However, on occasion, the Committee would stray into other areas that is to say if the -- if for some reason the applicant made them suspicious or otherwise antagonize them, there would be -- there would then emerged questions about political matters.

One of the test questions then being asked was, "Do you believe that a member of the Communist Party should be permitted to practice at bar in Illinois?"

That indeed was a question that was asked to me.

I answered that I thought that the Communist Party member should be permitted to -- to practice law if these were all -- there was no -- I'm paraphrasing now the first few exchanges."

Thereupon, the discussion turned to the problem of "right of revolution" simply because it was thought that the Communists espouse revolution and therefore should not be eligible for admission."

I responded with the observation that I thought that espousal or revolution should be no grounds for exclusion.

This -- this prompted rather here to exchange which thereupon led to one of the members of the Committee panel asking, "Are you a member of this or that organization?

But first of all, give me all your organizations that you're member of," and finally concluding, "Are you a member of the Communist Party?"

to which I responded that they had no right to ask such a question and that in any event, I will not answer it.

And that has been essentially the position ever since.

I will return to this -- both of these points, the unanswered questions and the refusal and the reviews on Declaration of Independence, the "right of revolution”.

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Anastaplo, under the Illinois system, at what stage in the process does the character examination come after?

After the applicant has passed the bar exam and met all the other qualifications.