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Supreme Court of the United States
Argued January 22, 1975 ; May 27, 1975
[*492] [***330] [**1816] MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.
We granted certiorari to decide whether a federal court may enjoin the issuance by Congress of a subpoena duces tecum that directs a bank to produce the bank records of an organization which claims a First Amendment [*493] privilege status for those records on the ground that they are the equivalent of confidential membership lists. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that compliance with the subpoena "would invade [****5] the constitutional rights" of the organization, and that judicial relief is available to prevent implementation of the subpoena.
In early 1970 the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security was given broad authority by the Senate to "make a complete and continuing study and investigation of… the administration, operation, and enforcement of the Internal Security Act of 1950…." S. Res. 341, 91st Cong., 2d Sess., (1970). The authority encompassed discovering the "extent, nature, and effect of subversive activities in the United States," and the resolution specifically directed inquiry concerning "infiltration by persons who are or may be under the domination of… foreign government…." Ibid. See also S. Res. 366, 81st Cong., 2d Sess. (1950). Pursuant to that mandate the Subcommittee began an inquiry into the activities of respondent United States Servicemen's Fund, Inc. (USSF).
USSF describes itself as a nonprofit membership corporation supported [***331] by contributions. 1 Its stated purpose is "to further the welfare of persons who have served or are presently serving in the military." To accomplish its declared purpose USSF has engaged in various activities 2 directed [****6] at United States servicemen. [*494] It established "coffeehouses" near domestic military installations, and aided the publication of "underground" newspapers for distribution on [**1817] American military installations throughout the world. The coffeehouses were meeting places for servicemen, and the newspapers were specialized publications which USSF claims dealt with issues of concern to servicemen. Through these operations USSF attempted to communicate to servicemen its philosophy and attitudes concerning United States involvement in Southeast Asia. USSF claims the coffeehouses and newspapers became "the focus of dissent and expressions of opposition within the military toward the war in [Southeast Asia]." 3
[****7] In the course of its investigation of USSF, the Subcommittee concluded that a prima facie showing had been made of the need for further investigation, and it resolved that appropriate subpoenas, including subpoenas duces tecum could be issued. Petitioner Eastland, a United States Senator, is, as he was then, Chairman of the Subcommittee. On May 28, 1970, pursuant to the above authority, he signed a subpoena duces tecum, issued on behalf of the Subcommittee, to the bank where USSF then had an account. The subpoena commanded the bank to produce by June 4, 1970: S
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421 U.S. 491 *; 95 S. Ct. 1813 **; 44 L. Ed. 2d 324 ***; 1975 U.S. LEXIS 65 ****
EASTLAND ET AL. v. UNITED STATES SERVICEMEN'S FUND ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
subpoena, Subcommittee, immune, cases, rights, sphere, aides, district court, constitutional right, legislating, arrest, bank records, investigate, questioning, issuance, parties, Arms, judicial interference, subpoena duces tecum, legislative process, respondents', servicemen, military, records, powers
Business & Corporate Law, Unincorporated Associations, Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Association, Governments, Federal Government, Employees & Officials, Congressional Duties & Powers, Speech & Debate Immunity, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Compulsory Process, Necessary & Proper Clause, Civil Procedure, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery, Subpoenas