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Boland v. Blakey
Issue raised.-Do the hiring and firing practices of a congression-
(1) In a criminal action against a Member of Congress on charges
Appeal, not mandamus, is the appropriate means of challenging the validity of an indictment of a Member of Congress on the grounds that it violates the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution.
Chase v. Kennedy (Not Reported)
Whatever action a Member of Congress decides to take with respect to a constituent's petition is absolutely within the Member's discretion and is not a proper subject of judicial inquiry. Clancey v. Albert (Not Reported)
(1) Under The Speech or Debate Clause a Congressman cannot be sued for enforcing an allegedly unconstitutional House Rule. (2) The doctrine of Sovereign Immunity bars suits against The U.S. House of Representatives. (3) An action by a constituent, which challenges the constitutionality of a House Rule that prohibits Members convicted of certain crimes from voting in The House of Representatives, becomes moot when the constituent's convicted Representative is not re-elected to Congress. Littlejohn v. Talmadge (Not Reported)
The Speech or Debate Clause requires the dismissal of a complaint which alleges that the defendant U.S. Senator supported certain legislation for unlawful reasons. United States v. Eilberg 465 F. Supp. 1076 (E.D. Pa. 1979)
(1) The giving of testimony by a Member of Congress before the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct is a legitimate legislative activity and therefore such testimony may not be used against the Member, either as substantive evidence or for impeachment purposes, without violating the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution. (2) The Speech or Debate Clause does not prohibit the introduction into evidence of testimony pertaining to a Mem
ber's efforts vis a vis an executive branch agency to effectuate the release of federal grant funds to a consituent. Ragas v. Davis (Not Reported)
The Speech or Debate Clause does not immunize a Member from liability for defamatory statements made to members of the press. Common Cause v. Bolger (formerly Bailar, formerly Klassen) (Not
Reported) (1) It is not inconsistent with the Speech or Debate Clause for a Member to be made to answer allegations that he has used the franking privilege for political purposes. (2) Remaining Issue: Does Section 3210 of the 1973 Franking Act violate the limitations upon the taxing and spending power of Congress under Article 1, Section 8, and contravene the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution by specifically authorizing the distribution of partisan political literature at the taxpayers' expense? In Re Grand Jury 587 F. 2d 598 (3rd Cir. 1978)
(1) Despite the fact that records of telephone calls made by a Member do not disclose the contents of any conversation, those portions of the telephone records which record the occurence of a legislative act may not be introduced into evidence under the Speech or Debate Clause. (2) A Member of Congress who believes that a grand jury subpoena directed to a third party may result in the disclosure of records of his which are privileged under the Clause, may intervene to oppose the subpoena. (3) Ă Member has no standing to oppose a grand jury subpoena directed to the Clerk of the House on the grounds that the subpoena is not sufficiently specific. McSurely v. McAdams (formerly McClellan) 535 F. 2d 1277 (D.C.
Cir. 1976) (1) A Member of Congress and his aides are not immune under the Speech or Debate Clause, from liability in a private suit for damages in which the plaintiff alleges that documents illegally taken from the plaintiff's home by state officials and transported to Washington by a senate investigator were disseminated outside the halls of Congress. (2) Even though material comes to a congressional committee by means that are unlawful or otherwise subject to judicial inquiry, the subsequent use of that material by the committee in the course of official business is privileged legislative activity.
II. CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS OF CONGRESS
Idaho v. Freeman (formerly Goulding)
Issues raised.—(1) May a State which has ratified an amendment to the Constitution of the United States rescind its ratification prior to ratification by the requisite three-fourths of the states? (2) Does Article V of the Constitution, which states that any resolution proposing a Constitutional amendment must be passed by a twothirds vote of Congress, prohibit Congress from extending the ratification period for such resolution by simple majority vote? (3) Can Congress extend the period during which a state may ratify a proposed amendment despite objections by a state that its prior ratification of the proposed amendment was made with the express understanding that if by the end of the ratification period the proposed amendment had not become law, the State's ratification would become void? Laxalt v. Kimmit (Not Reported)
Rule XLIV of the Senate Code of Ethics, which places a limit on the amount of outside earned income a U.S. Senator may recieve, does not violate Article I, Section 3, Clause 3 of The United States Constitution by imposing an additional qualification for membership in the Senate. Nor does it abridge freedom of speech and equal protection rights ensured by the Constitution. Chadha v. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Issue raised.—Is the one-House legislative veto provision of 8 USC § 244 constitutional? (a) Does it violate the separation of powers doctrine by usurping essential executive branch functions? (b) Does it deprive the President of a constitutional right to veto congresional actions having the effect of law? (c) Did the Framers of the Constitution intend that every power of the legislative branch not expressly granted to a single House would be exercised by both concurrently? Schwartz v. United States Department of Justice 435 F. Supp. 1203
(D.D.C. 1977) (1) In the District of Columbia an individual has a common law right to inspect congressional documents that meet the common law definition of “public records." (2) Congress has the power to abolish that right. Goland v. Central Intelligence Agency 607 F. 2d 339 (D.C. Cir. 1978)
(1) A congressionally generated document becomes an agency record and therefore, absent an exemption, subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, when under all the facts of the case the document has passed from the control of Congress and has become subject to the free disposition of the agency with which it resides. (2) The fact that Congress has stamped a document “Secret” evidences a Congressional intent to maintain control over the document's confidentiality. Erxon Corp. v. Federal Trade Commission Kerr-McGee Corp. v. Federal Trade Commission
and, Union Carbide Corp. v. Federal Trade Commission 589 F. 2d 582
(D.C. Cir. 1978) (1) 15 U.S.C. § 46(f), which prohibits the Federal Trade Commission from releasing the trade secrets of a company to the public, is not violated when the Commission transmits such information to a congressional committee. (2) If, in fact, a Member or congressional staff member improperly leaks confidential data obtained from the FTC, the injured parties have recourse against that individual directly and the possibility of such action will serve to deter unjustified disclosure of trade secrets. (3) Absent a showing that it is evident that Congress intends to make trade secrets divulged to it by the FTC publicly available, the FTC may, upon proper demand, release such secrets to Congress without first notifying the parties involved. (4) The FTC may discuss with Members of Congress or their staff, prior to congressional demand, the general nature of confidential data in its possession. Socialist Workers 1974 National Campaign Committee v, Henshaw
(formerly Jennings) (Not Reported) A political party that has demonstrated a reasonable probability that the compelled disclosure of the names of its members, candidates, and contributors will subject them to harassment from either government officials or private parties cannot constitutionally be compelled to comply with those portions of the Federal Elections Campaign Act that require the reporting of such information. Goldwater v. Carter
Issue raised.-May the President terminate a treaty without the approval of Congress? McCrae v. United States Department of Health Education and
Welfare Issue raised.- Is the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of federal funds to pay for abortions sought by indigent women, unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?
III. POWERS OF CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES
International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen v. Harris
(Not Reported) A committee's approval of a motion to report out a particular piece of legislation does not constitute a reporting out within the meaning of Section 7(c)(3) of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act. Iowa Beef Processor Inc. v. Smith (formerly Bagley) 601 F.2d 949
(D.C.Cir. 1979) A congressional committee which, pursuant to subpoena, has obtained from a federal court documents which are the subject matter of litigation and which should have been made subject to a protective order, is not required to return the documents so long as the committee was not a party to the litigation and violated no court order in obtaining them. Koniag Inc. v. Andrus (formerly Klepps) 580 F.2d 601 (D.C.Cir.
1978) The questioning of executive agency officials by Members of Congress at a committee hearing may constitute an impermissible legislative intrusion into the administrative process if the questioning focuses directly and substantially upon the officials' mental decisional processes in an adjudicative proceeding pending before them. However, this rule is inapplicable when the officials questioned are not decisionmakers. In Re Beef Industry Antitrust Litigation 607 F. 2d 167 (5th Cir.
1979) (1) House Rule XI, cl. 2(m)(2)(B) requires House authorization not only for direct enforcement of a subpoena but also in any instance when a House committee or subcommittee seeks to institute or to intervene in litigation, (2) Absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances, Congress can not subpoena documents in the hands of a litigant who would not otherwise have them except for the discovery procedure of the federal courts. United States v. Kim 471 F. Supp. 467 (D.D.C. 1979)
A witness who has been granted immunity in return for his testimony before a congressional committee, may not be convicted of Contempt of Congress for refusing to answer a question when he has reason to believe that his answer may be used to influence a judge (before whom the witness is awaiting sentencing on a conviction for perjury) to impose a harsher sentence.