United Pub. Workers v. Mitchell

330 U.S. 75, 67 S. Ct. 556 (1947)



The federal courts established pursuant to Article III of the Constitution do not render advisory opinions. For adjudication of constitutional issues, concrete legal issues, presented in actual cases, not abstractions, are requisite. This is as true of declaratory judgments as any other field.


Federal employees filed suit to enjoin the members of the Civil Service Commission from enforcing § 9(a) of the Hatch Act, which prohibited them from taking an active part in political management or political campaigns. The federal employees contend that it is unconstitutional. The trial court dismissed their complaint and granted summary judgment in favor of the Civil Service Commission. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.


Is § 9(a) of the Hatch Act unconstitutional?




The Court held that Section 9(a) was only directed at partisan political activity and its application to all federal employees was justified. Although the federal employee who had been charged by the commission with political activity presented matters appropriate for judicial determination, the Court held that a breach of the Hatch Act and Civil Service Rule 1 could, without violating the Constitution, be made the basis for disciplinary action. The Court also added that the federal employees who had not yet engaged in the activities prohibited by § 9(a) did not state a cognizable controversy because they sought an advisory opinion on broad claims of constitutional rights. Therefore, the district court erred in hearing the claims of those employees. Third, 

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