Congress Versus the Supreme Court, 1957-1960

Congress Versus the Supreme Court, 1957-1960

C. Herman Pritchett
Copyright Date: 1961
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 180
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttv963
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  • Book Info
    Congress Versus the Supreme Court, 1957-1960
    Book Description:

    Insight into the nature of judicial power and the role of the Supreme Court in our government is provided through this very readable summary and analysis of recent efforts of Congress to curb the Court.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3710-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. 1 CONGRESS AND THE COURT
    (pp. 3-14)

    June 17, 1957, was one of the memorable decision days in the history of the United States Supreme Court. At a time of great national concern over the threat of Communist subversion to American security and institutions, the Court handed down three decisions upholding the constitutional rights of communists or persons involved in official investigations of alleged subversive activities. InYatesv.United Statesthe Court by a six to one vote found major defects in the Smith Act conviction of fourteen members of the Communist Party, ordering the acquittal of five and new trials for the remaining nine. In...

  4. 2 THE MATERIALS OF CONTROVERSY
    (pp. 15-24)

    This book is concerned primarily with the congressional reaction to the Supreme Court’s decisions in certain national security cases, decided mostly in 1957 and 1958. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that the legislative temper was also affected during that period by decisions dealing with other problems, a factor which contributed substantially to the sharpness of the congressional reaction to the national security decisions.

    First of all, there was the bitter opposition that had developed, primarily in the South, against the Court’s historic decision in the case ofBrownv.Board of Education(1954). This declaration of the...

  5. 3 ATTACKING THE JUDICIAL INSTITUTION
    (pp. 25-40)

    In general there are two lines of strategy which Congress can employ when it undertakes to engage in controversy with the Supreme Court. One is to attack the decisions of the Court to which it objects. The other is to attack the Court as an institution.

    Let us consider the first alternative. Where the objectionable decision is based on a judicial interpretation of a congressional statute, Congress can show its disapproval by amending the statute. If the Court has found that a statute means one thing and Congress intended it to mean something else, Congress can readily make its will...

  6. 4 THE LEGISLATIVE INVESTIGATION ISSUE
    (pp. 41-58)

    Watkinsv.United Stateswas one of the two decisions on June 17, 1957, which galvanized the Court’s opponents in Congress into action. In theWatkinscase the Court dared to criticize the operations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and to indicate an intention to assume some responsibility for determining whether congressional committees were operating within their constitutional authority.

    Only once before in its history, in the 1881 decision ofKilbournv.Thompson, had the Court undertaken to curb a congressional investigating committee, and a considerable body of opinion had developed to the effect that Congress was the...

  7. 5 THE SMITH ACT ISSUE
    (pp. 59-71)

    The Smith Act, adopted in 1940, makes it unlawful knowingly to advocate or teach the overthrow of any government in the United States by force or violence, to print or distribute written matter so advocating, or to organize or knowingly to become a member of any group which so advocates. These are the provisions of section 2. Section 3 goes on to make conspiracy to accomplish any of these ends also punishable.

    InDennisv.United States(1951), a prosecution under section 3, the Supreme Court construed the Smith Act for the first time, under a limited grant of certiorari...

  8. 6 THE PREEMPTION ISSUE
    (pp. 72-85)

    InPennsylvaniav.Nelson(1956) the Supreme Court majority held that federal legislation, particularly the Smith Act, had “preempted” the field of protecting the United States against sedition, and had left the states with no power in this area. TheNelsoncase thus took its place in a long line of preemption decisions stretching back almost to the beginning of the nation. With two levels of government sharing many of the common public concerns over the same area, it often happens that both Congress and the state legislatures legislate on the same subject. It then becomes a responsibility for the...

  9. 7 THE PASSPORT ISSUE
    (pp. 86-95)

    The State Department’s policy of denying passports to communists or adherents to the Communist Party line was brought before the Supreme Court for consideration in the case ofKentv.Dulles(1958), and was invalidated as lacking any statutory authority. Justice Douglas reached this conclusion for the Court majority on the basis of an interpretation of both congressional action and non-action. The basic passport statute of 1856 appeared to give the Secretary of State broad discretionary power by providing: “The Secretary of State may grant and issue passports . . . under such rules as the President shall designate and...

  10. 8 THE LOYALTY-SECURITY ISSUE
    (pp. 96-106)

    One of the earliest results of the Cold War was the institution of a program for checking the loyalty and reliability of government employees and other workers in jobs where national security was involved. President Truman set up an elaborate procedure for reviewing employees’ loyalty in 1947, and President Eisenhower continued it in a somewhat revised form in 1953. All federal employees and applicants for employment were required to undergo a loyalty check, in which the FBI assisted in an investigative role. The Department of Justice prepared a list of subversive organizations to help guide the decisions of loyalty boards...

  11. 9 STATE LIMITATIONS ON EMPLOYMENT
    (pp. 107-116)

    Some of the bitterest attacks on the Warren Court were occasioned by two decisions rendered in 1957, dealing with admission to the practice of law in the states. In both cases the Supreme Court reversed state action and ordered admission to the bar for applicants who had been rejected by the state procedures. One of the cases,Konigsbergv.State Bar of California, was characterized by the Conference of Chief Justices of the states in their 1958 report as reaching “the high water mark so far established by the Supreme Court in overthrowing the action of a state and in...

  12. 10 THE FAILURE TO CURB THE COURT
    (pp. 117-134)

    The discussion in this volume has not attempted to cover all the areas of controversy in which the Supreme Court was involved by reason of its decisions between 1956 or 1957 and 1960. In concentrating upon the national security cases, it has been necessary to neglect a number of other irritants in legislative-judicial relations during the period. For example, the congressional response to theMallorydecision, in which the Court went further in protecting the procedural rights of a convicted rapist than many members of Congress thought proper, was mentioned in the first chapter, but has not been analyzed in...

  13. APPENDIX 1
    (pp. 137-140)
  14. APPENDIX 2
    (pp. 141-159)
  15. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 160-162)
  16. TABLE OF CASES
    (pp. 163-165)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 166-168)