Service v. Dulles

PETITIONER: Service
RESPONDENT: Dulles
LOCATION: Congress

DOCKET NO.: 407
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 354 US 363 (1957)
ARGUED: Apr 02, 1957 / Apr 03, 1957
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1957

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Service v. Dulles

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 02, 1957 in Service v. Dulles

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 03, 1957 in Service v. Dulles

Earl Warren:

Number 407, John S.Service, Petitioner, versus John Foster Dulles, et al.

Mr. MacGuineas, you may proceed.

Donald B. MacGuineas:

May it please the Court.

Counsel's skillful argument of yesterday invested petitioner with an aura of irreproachability which I think is scarcely warranted by the record.

The facts that were before the Secretary of State, when he exercised his discretion to dismiss the petitioner were these.

His counsel indicated, “When petitioner was on assignment with the army as a Foreign Service Officer during the war in China in 1944, it was his practice to prepare the usual Foreign Service reports.”

The original of which was transmitted to the Secretary of State, other copies went to the Army and it was his practice to retain one copy in what he termed his personal file.

The petitioner himself classified many of those reports as either confidential or secret, and that he was authorized to do.

A year later, when petitioner returned to Washington, without making any effort to declassify those reports, without obtaining any clearance from any person in authority in the Secretary in the Department of State, he gave his copies of the Foreign Service reports to Mr. Jaffe.

Felix Frankfurter:

Did I -- did I correctly hear you saying that he determined what was and what was not classified?

Donald B. MacGuineas:

Yes.

He had the authority in the field --

Felix Frankfurter:

Did he determine that?

Donald B. MacGuineas:

-- to classify them on --

Felix Frankfurter:

Just to be sure I heard that --

Donald B. MacGuineas:

That's correct.

Earl Warren:

While you're on that subject, would you mind stating whether he has the right to declassify as well as classify or is there a procedure for that?

Donald B. MacGuineas:

He -- there is no contention that petitioner had the authority to declassify any of the reports.

Earl Warren:

Well, is it a classification for him to say confidential?

Donald B. MacGuineas:

Yes, at that time --

Earl Warren:

And -- and --

Donald B. MacGuineas:

-- and secret.

Earl Warren:

And he has no authority beyond that?

Donald B. MacGuineas:

That's right.

He is the --

Felix Frankfurter:

Do I understand you to say that the John Smith today has -- has the legal right to regard a document, stamp on it or treat it as classified or not classified, not subject to restriction today, he can do that.

Donald B. MacGuineas:

Well --

But having that power tomorrow he can say, "Looking away, I think it's silly."

This was in yesterday's New York Times, why should I keep this classified.

Is that what I understood you to say?