Russell v. United States

Facts of the Case

The petitioners in these six cases were convicted of violating


Does a grand jury have to identify the subject of their inquiry when indicting an individual for refusing to answer pertinent questions?


Yes. In a 5-2 decision, Justice Potter Stewart wrote for the majority reversing the lower court’s judgment. The Supreme Court held that the convictions could not stand because the grand jury failed to identify the subject of the inquiry at the time the individuals refused to answer questions. Justice William J. Brennan did not participate in the decision with respect to #10.Justice William O. Douglas wrote a concurrence stating that the investigation was to determine Communist infiltration in the press and that that investigation was unconstitutional. Justice John M. Harlan wrote a dissent stating that the indictments were valid. Justice John C. Clark joined in Justice Harlan’s dissent and wrote a separate dissent criticizing this decision as a departure from previous law. Justices Byron R. White and Felix Frankfurter did not participate.

Case Information