Konigsberg v. State Bar of California

PETITIONER: Konigsberg
RESPONDENT: State Bar of California
LOCATION: Military Stockade

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 353 US 252 (1957)
ARGUED: Jan 14, 1957
DECIDED: May 06, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Konigsberg v. State Bar of California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 14, 1957 in Konigsberg v. State Bar of California

Earl Warren:

Number 5, Raphael Konigsberg versus The State Bar of California and The Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California.

Edward Mosk:

I'm ready for the petition, Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Mosk.

Edward Mosk:


Earl Warren:

You may proceed.

Edward Mosk:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices, Mr. Belcher.

This case arise before this Court by reason of the action of the Committee of Bar Examiners in the State of California in denying the petitioner admission to the Bar of California by reason of his alleged views, opinions and associations.

Under the State Bar Act of California, the Committee of Bar Examiners is empowered to certify to the Supreme Court applicants who fulfill certain requirements.

There is no dispute that the petitioner here fulfilled all of the educational, age, residence and other requirements of this sort.

There are in addition, two other requirements.

One is that the applicant be a person of good moral character, and the second is that the legislature in California has said that no person who advocates the overthrow of the Government by force and violence or other unconstitutional means shall be certified.

Now, shortly before the time that the petitioner here took the bar examination in the State of California, he was called in before the Committee of Bar Examiners and asked certain questions relative to his qualifications.

He thereafter, with the consent of the Committee took the bar examination and passed it so that there are no impediments other than the position of the Committee of Bar Examiners that the petitioner here has not sustained his burden of proof.

That he is a person of good moral character, and they state he has not sustained his burden of proof that he does not believe in the overthrow of the Government by force and violence.

Now, over a period of time, there were four hearings held before the Committee of Bar Examiners.

Three, before this other in subsection and then a final hearing in effect that de novo hearing before the full committee of these bar examiners for the State of California.

In the course of these hearings, the following facts were basically established.First of all, the petitioner himself, the background of the petitioner, a graduate of Ohio State University in 1931, later getting a master's degree in Social Work, taught History and English Literature in the Cleveland High School.

He was a supervisor in the Department of Health here in Washington, D.C.

He was a Research Director of the Council of Social Agencies in Los Angeles.

He was a supervisor for the State Relief Administration in California.

He was a Director of Social Services in the City of Hope Sanitarium in Duarte, California.Subsequently, in the -- during the war, he became a captain and he -- and was in charge of information and education for some 400,000 soldiers in Germany in the Seventh Army.

And three times, he was a candidate for public office in Los Angeles, twice for the Board of Education and once for the State Assembly.

The record contains no single fact other than those which I shall refer to in a moment, indicating anything about his work record, his personal record, his life in the community of Los Angeles other than the very highest recommendation as to his character.

In addition, the petitioner brought before the Committee of Bar Examiners some 40 letters from every single stage of his life as a social worker in the hospitals, in the army, everything, in -- in the university.

He brought letters from persons like Right Reverend Monsignor Dwyer, from Rabbi Jed Cohen, community leaders all indicating that he had an impeccable personal record in his community.

Now, at the hearings, the Committee commenced by introducing and showing to the petitioner a series of articles which he had written during a brief period of employment with a Los Angeles newspaper known as the California Eagle.

This is a newspaper of weekly circulation and primarily -- primary circulation is in the Negro community of Los Angeles.

These articles were vigorous, pungent, strong, challenging political articles but all dealing with the political -- were all commentaries on the political affairs of the day.

These articles were introduced and shown to the petitioner.