Law School Case Brief
Kent v. Dulles, Secretary of State - 357 U.S. 116, 78 S. Ct. 1113 (1958)
The right to travel is a part of the “liberty” of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under U.S. Const. amend. V.
Under the authority of § 215 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, 8 U. S. C. § 1185, and § 1 of the Act of Congress of July 3, 1926, Dulles, the Secretary of State refused to issue passports to each of the two plaintiffs, both American citizens, because of their refusal to file an affidavit concerning their membership in the Communist Party. To obtain the passport, each of the plaintiffs instituted an action against the Secretary of State in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The District Court decided in favor of the Secretary of State, which the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed by a divided vote. Plaintiffs sought further appellate review by filing a petition for certiorari.
Was the Secretary of State authorized to deny passports to plaintiffs because of their refusal to file an affidavit concerning their membership in the Communist Party?
The United States Supreme Court held that neither § 215 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 nor § 1 of the Act of Congress of July 3, 1926, was the Secretary of State authorized to deny the passports for plaintiffs’ refusal to file an affidavit concerning their membership in the Communist Party. The Court held that the right to travel was a part of the liberty that a citizen could not be deprived of without due process of law under U.S. Amend. V. According to the Court, the only two grounds for refusing to issue a passport that could properly be asserted had to relate to citizenship or allegiance or to criminal or unlawful conduct. The Court stated that these were the only general categories for refusal that one could fairly argue, in light of prior administrative practice, Congress had adopted.
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