Stanford v. Texas

LOCATION: Longshore and Warehouse Union

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: State trial court

CITATION: 379 US 476 (1965)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1964
DECIDED: Jan 18, 1965

Facts of the case


Media for Stanford v. Texas

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 12, 1964 in Stanford v. Texas

Earl Warren:

Number 40, John W. Stanford Jr., Petitioner versus State of Texas.

Mr. Maverick.

Maury Maverick, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case pertains to the application -- issuance and execution of a search warrant on the two Texas anti-Communist laws and at a time subsequent, subsequent to the time when the Federal Government had first entered the field of prohibited activities and had ordered the petitioner in this case John Stanford to register under the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1954.

The search took place in his home private residence where he conducted a mail order bookstore called All Points of View, over 2000 books, pamphlets, lists, and letters were taken from the petitioner's home.

Now the two Texas sedition laws at question is first the Texas Communist Control Law that says in its preamble that Texas is a place where there are many vital military installations and Texas is a place where there are many products for national defense and it sets out -- then it sets out the criminal acts.

If you remain in Texas five days, you must be -- if you're a Communist you must register.

If you're engage in sabotage against the United States or the -- or of Texas you're then subject to criminal punishment.

The next Texas law involved is the Texas Suppression Act of 1954.

Section 1 in the form of the preamble describes the international conspiracy of Communism as directed against the United States and the “several states” and then finally against the State of Texas.

And this makes it prime to attempt to overthrow the United States or Texas, to advocate such doctrine, to conspire, to commit such acts, to support or be a member of an organization which engages in such act.

The law so states that the Communist Party cannot be on the ballot in the Communist Party is outlawed in the State of Texas.

Now, then we get to Section 9 of the Texas Suppression Act and this in -- the most vital part of this case.

It says Section 9 that a search warrant maybe issued showing to describe premises as they please where some specified -- some specified phase or phases are being violated or are violated in showing -- in repeating this phase, were showing a violation of some phase or phases of this Act.

The affidavit who is supporting the search warrant were signed by Mr. V. Murray Jordan and Lonny F. Zwiener both of whom are Assistant Attorney Generals of Texas.

After naming Stanford in their affidavit, they stated that his home poses a place where books etcetera concerning the Communist Party, books concerning the Communist Party of Texas and the operation in the Communist Party of Texas are unlawfully possessed in the violation of these two Texas statutes.

Now here it should be noted that not one phase of either of these two Texas laws was mentioned that this man allegedly was violated.

They based their beliefs they said on this case, “Recent mailings by Stanford on 12, December 1963 a material from his home.

Such material being identified as pro-Communist and they did not define what this norm -- they did not provide a norm or standards on what is pro-Communist."

They said what he was mailing out of his home was pro-Communist.

Then they had the application for the search warrant signed by Mr. Barlow who carried along the language of the affidavit and then he stated to Mr. Barlow the District Attorney who will speak to you shortly, stated that his belief was founded on the following information, “That this officer had received information from two credible persons that the party named above has such books and records in his possession which are books and records of the Communist Party that such information as recent or again has been confirmed by recent mailings by Stanford on December the 12, 1963, a pro-Communist material."

Again they do not describe or set out any norm or standard as to what they mean by the term pro-Communist.

Then District Judge Solomon Casseb Jr. issued his order whom in -- to pick up the books, records, pamphlets "concerning the Communist Party of Texas and the operations of the Communist Party of Texas."

Now on December 26th, Your Honors, 1963 which is a day before this Texas warrant was issued and acted upon a U.S. Marshall Jessie Dobb served an order on Mr. Stanford to register under the U.S. Subversive Activities Control Act.

By this time -- by the time Stanford had been served with this Texas warrant he had already had a hearing before the federal authority.

The next day and this is in the record because we moved it in the evidence.

It had been the headlines in the San Antonio paper.

The screaming headline in the San Antonio News, Admit Red Ties, San Antonio Man Ordered, and so there wasn't many secret about the fact that the Federal Government had first entered the field of prohibited activity.

Now Your Honors if I may I would like to refer some of the testimony that took place at the hearings to determine to the validity of this search warrant.

First of all, I would bring your attention the testimony of John Good Jr. -- Mr. John Good Jr., he was first Assistant District Attorney in 1949 and 1950.