Travis v. United States

PETITIONER: Helen Maxine Levi Travis
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Central Division

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 385 US 491 (1967)
ARGUED: Nov 15, 1966 / Nov 16, 1966
DECIDED: Jan 10, 1967

John T. McTernan - For the Petitioner
Nathan Lewin - For the Respondent

Facts of the case

This is a companion case to United States v. Laub, 385 U.S. 475. Helen Travis was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California of traveling to Cuba on two occasions without a valid passport in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. While Travis’ passport admittedly was not endorsed for travel to Cuba, the U.S. government did not allege, or provide proof, that she did not have a valid passport for general international travel. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the conviction.


Are violations of area restrictions put in place by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 criminally punishable under the act?

Media for Travis v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 16, 1966 in Travis v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 15, 1966 in Travis v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

Number 67, Helen Maxine Levi Travis, petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. McTernan.

John T. McTernan:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Petitioner Travis here stands convicted on two counts, the violation of Title 8, U.S. Code Section 1185 for having deported, the United States for Cuba on two occasions in 1962 without a valid a passport.

The proof by stipulation was that on neither occasion, the petitioner have and I quote, "A valid United States passport specifically endorsed for travel to Cuba."

There is no proof in this record at all as to whether petitioner had an otherwise operative passport.

So the evidence shows that she went to Cuba to observe the living and working conditions of the people and the effectuation and implementation of Government programs dealing with health, public health, housing, education, agriculture industry.

The fact are then in the record that she did so observed and take photographs, represented a copies of which in the record.

And upon her return, she reported upon her observations by way of circular letters to people in this country and by illustrated lectures.

And I assume from the decisions in (Inaudible) that this Court is familiar with the statutory editing in Section 1185 and I will not go into that detail unless I'm asked to sufficing to say that 1185 replaced two earlier statutes which in pertinent respects here were identical.

There were prior to the 1952 enactment of Section 1185 regulations issued by the Secretary of State and which were adopted by the President after the 1952 statute passed in Proclamation Number 3004 which is set forth on our -- in the appendix to our brief, Appendix F.

And these regulations provided that passports would not be required for countries in the western hemisphere.

In 1961, the so-called excluding Cuba Amendment was adopted, and this as we see it is a three faceted Government Act which involved a regulation, a public notice and a press release.

The regulation is set forth at Appendix B of our brief.

It states in terms that it is promulgated under an executive order which in turn was based upon 22 U.S.C.211 (a) is the statute involved in the Zemel case.

It does not say that it was promulgated under Section 1185.

And the effect of it was to exclude Cuba from the exemption in the earlier regulations pertaining to countries in the western hemisphere.

So that by the face of the regulation alone, taking it by itself, a passport was required in the case of a departure for Cuba just as it were had been required for a departure for France, or Burma, or Cuba and whatever.

There was nothing in the regulation on itself which required a special endorsement to the passport for Cuba.

Simultaneously, with the promulgation of the amendment was the issuance of the public notice that is set forth in Appendix D to our brief, which declared existing passports invalid for Cuba and provided for the future that passports not be valid for travel to Cuba unless especially endorsed for such travel.

The third process of the Government Act at this time was the simultaneous press relief, which explained the Government's action is the result of the Government's inability and I quote, "to extend a normal protective servicing to Americans traveling in -- or visiting in Cuba."

It advised that the specially required endorsement for passports to Cuba would be granted only to persons, "Whose travel maybe regarded as in the best interest of the United States."

We take the position in this litigation, if the Court please that the regulations, the public notice and the press release are an integrated scheme to regulate travel by -- to Cuba by way of license to be issued in a total discretion of the Secretary of State.

Now, I would like to address myself to our first position namely that the statute does not authorize the imposition of criminal sanctions to enforce area travel ban.

On its face of the statute and I now refer to Section 1185, imposes a requirement that citizens hold a valid passports at the time they cross U.S. borders and that is as far as the statute goes.

The face of the statute contains no reference to the destination of it's -- of the traveler and imposes no requirement and no sanctions related to the destination of the traveler.

As applied here, the Government would read the statute as permitting the use of a passport requirement with a purpose of prohibiting travel to areas declared out of bounds by the Government.

And the issue as we see it is whether the statute is to be construed as we think it is written, simply a border control regulation or whether is it be construed as we think the Government would construe it as a travel to regulation, which imposes prohibitions and licenses and dependent upon the destination of the traveler.

Our position rests on three grounds if the Court please.

First on the face of the statute which is I've already pointed out, speaks only to holding a passport when the border is crossed and without any reference to destination at all.