Konigsberg v. State Bar of California

PETITIONER: Konigsberg
RESPONDENT: State Bar of California
LOCATION: Mapp's Residence

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 366 US 36 (1961)
ARGUED: Dec 14, 1960
DECIDED: Apr 24, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Konigsberg v. State Bar of California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 14, 1960 in Konigsberg v. State Bar of California

Earl Warren:

Number 28 Raphael Konigsberg, Petitioner, versus State Bar of California et al.

Edward Mosk:

Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices.

We've had a somewhat unusual, I think, for the Court situation this afternoon in a situation of a petitioner speaking for himself.

I think perhaps in the Konigsberg case, we come in to a second somewhat unusual situation in that we have a case here for the second time on at least what from the point of view of the petitioner would seem to us to be almost identical facts as have already been determined by this Court.

I, of course, am well aware of the theory under which the State of California acting through the Committee of Bar Examiners has brought this case before you a second time by declining to admit the petitioner after the decision of this Court.

So that I think that I should commence by reviewing the facts as they have occurred, bringing us down first to the present moment of this second Konigsberg case.

The Court will remember that on May 6th, 1957, this Court said about the petitioner without some authentic reliable evidence of unlawful or immoral actions reflecting upon him, it is difficult to comprehend why the State rejected a man of Konigsberg's background and character as morally unfit to practice law.

Now, in California, there are two statutes which come in to play in connection with admissions of -- of perspective applicants for the Bar.

We have the business and professions called Section 6060 which simply, along with age and education requirements, establishes that a person must be of good moral character.

And then we have Section 6064.1 which says that no person who advocates overthrow of the Government by force and violence maybe a member of the Bar.

Now, as far as petitioner is concern, these are the only two statutes that are really involved in this case at the present time.

Konigsberg comments the study of law in September of 1950 at the University of Southern California.

He registered his intention to take the bar examination with the Committee of Bar Examiners in accordance with the normal procedures in December of 1950.

His previous background was somewhat unusual for a law student in that he was already 39 years old had already had a distinguished career in social work in the community of Los Angeles and other parts of the country.

He had a master's degree at Ohio State University.

He had, at one time, been a supervisor in the Department of Health here in the District of Columbia.

He had been director of Social Services for the City of Hope Sanatorium in Los Angeles.

He had been a district director of relief in the State of California.

During the war, he had spent some four years in the army and had come out with the rank of captain in the United States Army.

Nevertheless, when the time came for him to take the bar examination, he was called in by the Committee Bar Examiners, which in California, under our integrated bar system, differing in that extent from Illinois, has the power to recommend to the Supreme Court but in California, the Supreme Court does the admitting of respective app -- applicants for the Bar.

He was called then and certain hearings were conducted of which the record was before this Court in its entirety in the case which was decided in 1957.

At the conclusion of the hearings in 1953 and 1954, the Supreme Court of California declined to review a determination by the Committee of Bar Examiners that the petitioner had not met his burden of proof that he was a person of good moral character or that he did not advocate overthrow of the Government by force and violence.

The petition for review was made to the Supreme Court of California.

And although three of the judges voted for a hearing, no hearing was held in the Supreme Court of California and the matter came to this Court on a petition for certiorari.

The decision of this Court, of course, is 353 U.S. 252, the case of Konigsberg versus State Bar.

Now, after the mandate from this Court came down to California, the petitioner, acting through counsel, requested the Supreme Court of California, which was not then in session, to set a time for hearing for the petitioner to be sworn in as a member of the Bar assuming that the -- that the opinion of this Court instructing the State of California to take action not inconsistent with the decision could only mean that petitioner should be admitted to the Bar.

The considerable period of time passed in which the Supreme Court of California did not act and then finally, the Supreme Court vacated its previous orders in the matter and sent the matter to the Committee of Bar Examiners with instructions of the Committee of Bar Examiners should take action not inconsistent with the Supreme Court decision.

At that time, the petitioner then requested of the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State of California that the Committee of Bar Examiners simply make a recommendation that petitioner be admitted to the Bar of the State of California.

Instead, the Committee of Bar Examiners called further hearings and the record, which is before this Court in the present proceeding, consists of the hearing before the Committee of Bar Examiners.

Now, when the hearing was held, petitioner again initially said, "There is no point to this hearing.