Rabinowitz v. Kennedy

PETITIONER: Rabinowitz
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 376 US 605 (1964)
ARGUED: Mar 02, 1964
DECIDED: Mar 30, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Rabinowitz v. Kennedy

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 02, 1964 in Rabinowitz v. Kennedy

Earl Warren:

Number 287, Victor Rabinowitz et al., Petitioners, versus Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States.

Mr. Rein, you may proceed.

David Rein:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Petitioners here are members of the bar of the State of New York, engaged in the general practice of law under the firm name of Rabinowitz and Boudin.

Since this case is here, on a motion for judgment of the pleadings, the facts are -- is set forth on the complaint, and I will just briefly state what the complaint said with regard to the matter in controversy.

According to the allegations of the compliant, petitioners were retained on or about September 10th of 1960, by the Republic of Cuba to represent that Government in purely mercantile and financial matters.

The retainer does not cover advice and representation involving public relations, propaganda, lobbying, or political or any other non-legal matters.

And the petitioners have not in fact represented the Republic of Cuba in any respect other than in mercantile and financial matters.

In August of 1961, of the respondent, the Attorney General here demanded that petitioners register with him in accordance with the provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.

Petitioners came down to Washington and discussed the matter with the representatives and subordinates of the Attorney General and they maintained that their representation of the Republic of Cuba did not fall within the purview of the Act.

And that as a matter of fact; they were expressly exempted from the Act by the provisions of simply Section 3 (d) which exempt individuals who engage in purely mercantile and financial matters.

The respondent nevertheless insisted and proudly continues to insist the petitioners register.

Is there any dispute if it returned to the retainer or registry?

David Rein:

There is no dispute at all on this compliant and this set of facts.

Let me say, the Government in their answer said as follows with regard to the nature of the retainer.

They admitted the allegations of the compliant and then they went on to say, "They did not have any sufficient information and belief to determine whether there was anything more."

But they have never alleged that there was anything more.

They simply say that, "Maybe there is, we don't know."

But in the discussions that we had with the Attorney General, he did not say that they had to register because they represented the Republic of Cuba or in any way other than as alleged in the complaint.

But the purposes of this case were to take it if it's just a straightforward (Inaudible)?

David Rein:

That's right.

There is no --


David Rein:

There is no other issue raised here by the pleadings and as I understand it, there is no issue raised by the Attorney General even outside the pleadings except apparently to say that he doesn't know anything more, though he has full knowledge really of the -- I can state, he obviously does have full knowledge of the appearances which the petitioners have made upon by -- for the other Republic of Cuba.

Byron R. White:

Well Mr. -- Mr. Rein, is this -- when -- when you say retainer, is this an on-going arrangement involving periodic payments or is it solely a piece work undertaking?

David Rein:

I understand it's a continuing arrangement.

Byron R. White:

So that -- so that periodically, there would be some retainer paid somewhat related to the work done I suppose, but --

David Rein:

The pleadings don't state the nature of the financial payments.

Byron R. White:

Well I don't --

David Rein:

Not (Voice Overlap) --