MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
This appeal presents a problem as to the constitutionality of § 313 of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, as amended by § 304 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947. Section 313 of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act now reads as stated in the margin.
The defendants moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that § 313 as construed and applied and upon its face abridged as to the CIO and its members and Mr. Murray freedom of speech, press and assembly and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances in violation of the Constitution; that the classification of labor organizations was arbitrary and the provisions vague in contravention of the Bill of Rights; and that the terms of the section were an invasion of the rights of defendants, protected by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. The District Court sustained the motion to dismiss on the ground that as "no clear and present danger to the public interest can be found in the circumstances surrounding the enactment of this legislation" the asserted abridgment of the freedoms of the First Amendment was unjustified.
We accepted jurisdiction of the Government's appeal under the Criminal Appeals Act. 18 U.S.C. § 682.
Indictment. — The presently essential parts of the indictment are set out in the margin.
We do not read the indictment as charging an expenditure by the CIO in circulating free copies to nonsubscribers, nonpurchasers or among citizens not entitled to receive copies of "The CIO News," as members of the union. The indictment, count I, paragraph (3), charged the CIO with making expenditures from its funds for "the cost of distribution" of the paper, in paragraph (6) (a), with paying approximately $100 for postal charges for the challenged issue and "causing said article to be distributed in the Third Congressional District of the State of Maryland and elsewhere in connection with the special election held in that Congressional District on the fifteenth day of July 1947." In paragraph (6) (b) there are allegations about certain extra copies. These are set out in the marginal note 3 supra. The extras we assume were published pursuant to the order of Mr. Murray in the article.
Scope of Section 313. — The construction of this section as applied to this indictment turns on the range of the word "expenditure," added to the section by § 304 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, as indicated in note 1, supra. "Expenditure" as here used is not a word of art. It has no definitely defined meaning and the applicability of the word to prohibition of particular acts must be determined from the circumstances surrounding its employment. The reach of its meaning raised questions during congressional consideration of the bill when it contained the present text of the section. Did it cover comments upon political personages and events in a corporately owned newspaper? 93 Cong. Rec. 6438. Could unincorporated trade associations make expenditures? Id., 6439. Could a union-owned radio station give time for a political speech? Id., 6439. What of comments by a radio commentator? Id., 6439. Is it an expenditure only when A is running against B or is free, favorable publicity for prospective candidates illegal? Id., 6440. What of corporately owned religious papers supporting a candidate on moral grounds? The Anti-Saloon League? Id., 6440.
The purpose of Congress is a dominant factor in determining meaning.
Section 304 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 is not a section without a history. Its earliest legislative antecedent was the Act of January 26, 1907, which provided:
This legislation seems to have been motivated by two considerations. First, the necessity for destroying the influence over elections which corporations exercised through financial contribution.
The next important legislation was the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, 1925. This statute was the legislative
The statute immediately preceding § 304 in time was the War Labor Disputes Act of 1943.
When Congress began to consider the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 it had as a guide the 1944 presidential election, an election which had been conducted under the above amendment to the Act of 1925. In analyzing the experience of that election, a serious defect was found in the wording of the Act of 1925. The difficulty was that the word "contribution" was read narrowly by various special congressional committees investigating the 1944 and 1946 campaigns.
The Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 was the subject of extensive debates in Congress. Embracing as
Application. — With this summary of the development of and quotation of excerpts from discussion in Congress concerning § 313, we turn to its interpretation and a determination as to whether it covers the circumstances charged in the indictment. Some members of the Court, joining in this opinion, do not place the reliance upon legislative history that this opinion evidences, but reach the same conclusion without consideration of that history. From what we have previously noted, it is clear that Congress was keenly aware of the constitutional limitations on legislation and of the danger of the invalidation by the courts of any enactment that threatened abridgment of the freedoms of the First Amendment. It did not want to pass any legislation that would threaten interferences with the privileges of speech or press or that would undertake to supersede the Constitution. The obligation rests also upon this Court in construing congressional enactments to
If § 313 were construed to prohibit the publication, by corporations and unions in the regular course of conducting their affairs, of periodicals advising their members, stockholders or customers of danger or advantage to their interests from the adoption of measures, or the election to office of men espousing such measures, the gravest doubt would arise in our minds as to its constitutionality.
When Congress coupled the word "expenditure" with the word "contribution," it did so because the practical operation of § 313 in previous elections showed the need to strengthen the bars against the misuse of aggregated funds gathered into the control of a single organization from many individual sources. Apparently "expenditure" was added to eradicate the doubt that had been raised as to the reach of "contribution," not to extend greatly the coverage of the section.
It is our conclusion that this indictment charges only that the CIO and its president published with union funds a regular periodical for the furtherance of its aims, that President Murray authorized the use of those funds for distribution of this issue in regular course to those accustomed to receive copies of the periodical and that the issue with the statement described at the beginning of this opinion violated § 313 of the Corrupt Practices Act.
We are unwilling to say that Congress by its prohibition against corporations or labor organizations making an "expenditure in connection with any election" of candidates for federal office intended to outlaw such a publication.
Our conclusion leads us to affirm the order of dismissal upon the ground herein announced.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, concurring.
In a government operating under constitutional limitations there are obvious advantages in knowing at once the legal powers of the government. The desire to secure these advantages explains the strong efforts of some of the ablest members of the Philadelphia Convention to associate the judiciary through a Council of Revision in the legislative process.
Accordingly, the fact that it would be convenient to the parties and the public to know promptly whether a statute is valid, has not affected "rigid insistence" on limiting adjudication to actual "cases" and "controversies." To that end the Court has developed "for its own governance
A case or controversy in the sense of a litigation ripe and right for constitutional adjudication by this Court implies a real contest — an active clash of views, based upon an adequate formulation of issues, so as to bring a challenge to that which Congress has enacted inescapably before the Court. The matter was thus put by an authoritative commentator: "The determination of constitutional questions has been associated with the strictly judicial function and so far as possible has been removed from the contentions of politics. These questions have been decided after full argument in contested cases and it is only with the light afforded by a real contest that opinions on questions of the highest importance can safely be rendered." Charles Evans Hughes, The Supreme Court of the United States (1928) 32. Time has not lessened the force of the reason for this requirement of abstention as indicated by Chief Justice Marshall: "No questions can be brought before a judicial tribunal of greater delicacy than those which involve the constitutionality of a legislative act. If they become indispensably necessary to the case, the court must meet and decide them; but if the case may be determined on other points, a just respect for the legislature requires, that the obligation of its laws should not be unnecessarily and wantonly assailed." Ex parte Randolph, 20 Fed. Cas. No. 11,558 at 254, 2 Brock. 447, 478-79 (C.C.D. Va. 1833).
We are concerned here not with derogatory implications of collusion, nor have we a case of mootness with its technical meaning of a non-existent controversy. The circumstances bring the present record within those considerations which have led this Court in the past "for its own governance in the cases confessedly within its jurisdiction" to avoid passing on grave constitutional questions because the questions involving the power of Congress come here not so shaped by the record and by the proceedings below as to bring those powers before this Court as leanly and as sharply as judicial judgment upon an exercise of congressional power requires.
According to the District Court, the Government conceded that § 304 of the Taft-Hartley Act is an abridgment of "rights guaranteed by the First Amendment" but contended that "Congress has power under Article I, Section 4, of the Constitution to abridge First Amendment rights if it considers such a course necessary in maintaining the purity and freedom of elections." This representation of the Government's argument below is made in the opinion of the District Court not once, not twice, but thrice.
Again, the defendants did not urge below, as is ordinarily the way of defendants, a construction of the statute
I cannot escape the conclusion that in a natural eagerness to elicit from this Court a decision at the earliest possible moment, each side was at least unwittingly the ally of the other in bringing before this Court far-reaching questions of constitutionality under circumstances which all the best teachings of this Court admonish us not to entertain.
But since my brethren find that the case calls for adjudication, I join in the Court's opinion. I do so because of another rule of constitutional adjudication which requires us to give a statute an allowable construction that fairly avoids a constitutional issue. See my dissenting opinion in Shapiro v. United States, ante, p. 36, decided this day.
MR. JUSTICE RUTLEDGE, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACK, MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS and MR. JUSTICE MURPHY join, concurring in the result.
If § 313 as amended
The Court's interpretation of the section and the indictment are not entirely clear to me. But, as I understand the ruling, it is only that § 313 does not forbid labor unions to take part in pending elections
The line of coverage is marked without reference to the source from which the union derives the funds so
The construction therefore comes down to finding that Congress did not intend to forbid these expenditures, though made from union funds, since tley were made: (1) to sustain the publication of the union's political views; (2) in the regular course of publishing and distributing a union newspaper; (3) with distribution limited substantially
If such an interpretation were tenably supportable on any other basis, I should be in accord with this happy solution. But neither the language of the section nor its history affords such a basis, unless indeed it may be
Indeed, so far as the present opinion concludes, that may be the case. For it does not hold that distribution outside the circle of membership, even in regular course, is forbidden or, if so, the prohibition would be constitutionally permissible. Neither does it rule that either consequence would follow from casual or occasional distribution within or without that circle. At the most it is indicated that the section more probably or possibly covers those situations than the one now eliminated. But there seems to be no corresponding intimation that the section would be valid in such coverage.
In fact the opinion points to no situation, relating to a union's expression of political views, which certainly could be taken as included and validly so. This, of course, comes down to excluding the present circumstances, not to save the statute because there are other applications clearly and validly covered, but because there are such applications which may or may not be covered and which, if covered, may be equally or nearly as doubtful constitutionally. Such a course of construction, if followed in each instance of indictment on particular facts, would mean that the section could not apply in any instance of publication, because each would present "the gravest doubt" of constitutionality and therefore would be excluded.
The language of § 313, as amended, is sweepingly comprehensive. Insofar as presently pertinent it forbids labor unions as well as corporations ". . . to make a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election at which . . . [the designated federal officers]
The crucial words are "expenditure" and "in connection with." Literally they cover any expenditure whatever relating at any rate to a pending election, and possibly to prospective elections or elections already held. The broad dictionary meaning of the word "expenditure" takes added color from its context with "contribution." The legislative history is clear that it was added by the 1947 amendment expressly to cover situations not previously included within the accepted legislative interpretation of "contribution."
When one turns to that source, he finds a veritable fog of contradictions relating to specific possible applications,
These were: (1) To reduce what had come to be regarded in the light of recent experience as the undue and disproportionate influence of labor unions upon federal elections; (2) to preserve the purity of such elections and of official conduct ensuing from the choices made in them against the use of aggregated wealth by union as well as corporate entities; and (3) to protect union members holding political views contrary to those supported by the union from use of funds contributed by them to promote acceptance of those opposing views.
With those objects in mind as throwing light on the section's coverage under the broad language employed, we turn to the legislative history on that subject. The Government centers the discussion, both on coverage and on constitutionality, around the "minority protection" objective. And the legislative discussion, taking place almost exclusively in the Senate and dominated largely by the Labor Management Act's sponsor in that body, also took this purpose as the central theme.
The discussion ranged around a great variety of possible specific applications,
That is, in his view that the primary purpose of the amendment was "minority protection," the line drawn by the section was between expenditure of funds received by the union expressly for the purpose of the publication and earmarked for that purpose and, on the other hand, expending funds not so limited by the person or source supplying them.
If therefore the sponsor's steadfast view can have weight to determine the coverage of a statute indefinite in its terms, Wright v. Vinton Branch, 300 U.S. 440; United States v. Dickerson, 310 U.S. 554; United States v. American Trucking Assns., 310 U.S. 534; United States v. Wrightwood Dairy Co., 315 U.S. 110, this case is brought squarely within the prohibition of § 313. This is conclusively established by the excerpts from the legislative discussion quoted in the Court's opinion. Others to the same effect are added to this one as an appendix.
Moreover in his message vetoing the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 the President stated that § 313 "would prevent the ordinary union newspaper from commenting favorably or unfavorably upon candidates or issues in national elections." H.R. Doc. No. 334, 80th
Thus, in the face of the legislative judgment, reiterated after veto, and of the Chief Executive's in making his veto, this Court sets aside the one clearly intended feature of the statute apart from its general objectives. I doubt that upon any matter of construction the Court has heretofore so far presumed to override the plainly and incontrovertibly stated judgment of all participants in the legislative process with its own tortuously fashioned view. This is not construction under the doctrine of strict necessity. It is invasion of the legislative process by emasculation of the statute. The only justification for this is to avoid deciding the question of validity.
We are concerned in this case with the constitutionality of § 313 as amended only insofar as it may be applied in restriction or abridgment of the rights of freedom of speech, press and assembly secured by the First Amendment.
As the Court has declared repeatedly, that judgment does not bear the same weight and is not entitled to the same presumption of validity, when the legislation on its face or in specific application restricts the rights of conscience, expression and assembly protected by the Amendment, as are given to other regulations having no such tendency.
At the outset the Government admits that § 313, in prohibiting expenditures in connection with any federal election, does "bring into play" the rights of freedom of speech, press and assembly. This is a necessary consequence of its construction of the section and the presently attempted application. But it is claimed no unconstitutional abridgment is involved. This, because it is said Congress has power to act to preserve the freedom and purity of federal elections under Art. I, § 4, of the Constitution,
Apart from the question whether the same argument might not be applicable to all other powers granted to Congress by the Constitution, to destroy the principles stated for securing the preferential status of the First Amendment freedoms, the argument ignores other equally settled corollary principles. These are that statutes restrictive of or purporting to place limits to those freedoms must be narrowly drawn to meet the precise evil the legislature seeks to curb, Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296;
Section 313 falls far short of meeting these requirements, both in its terms and as infused with meaning from the legislative history. This is true whether the section is considered in relation to one or another of the evils said to be its targets or with reference to all of them taken together.
If the evil is taken to be the corruption of national elections and federal officials by the expenditure of large masses of aggregated wealth in their behalf, the statute is neither so phrased nor so limited, even in its legislative construction. Indeed the Government does not explicitly argue corruption per se arising from union expenditures for publication in the same sense as gave rise to the original and later legislation against corporate contributions down to the War Labor Disputes Act of 1943. And very little in the legislative history directly suggests this evil, although there are inferences implicit in some statements that it was not entirely out of mind.
There are, of course, obvious differences between such evils and those arising from the grosser forms of assistance more usually associated with secrecy, bribery and corruption, direct or subtle. But it is not necessary to stop to point these out or discuss them, except to say that any asserted beneficial tendency of restrictions upon expenditures for publicizing political views, whether of a group or of an individual, is certainly counterbalanced to some extent by the loss for democratic processes resulting from the restrictions upon free and full public discussion. The claimed evil is not one unmixed with good. And its suppression destroys the good with the bad unless precise measures are taken to prevent this.
The expression of bloc sentiment is and always has been an integral part of our democratic electoral and legislative processes. They could hardly go on without it. Moreover, to an extent not necessary now to attempt delimiting, that right is secured by the guaranty of freedom of
There is therefore an effect in restricting expenditures for the publicizing of political views not inherently present in restricting other types of expenditure, namely, that it necessarily deprives the electorate, the persons entitled to hear, as well as the author of the utterance, whether an individual or a group, of the advantage of free and full discussion and of the right of free assembly for that purpose.
The most complete exercise of those rights is essential to the full, fair and untrammeled operation of the electoral process. To the extent they are curtailed the electorate is deprived of information, knowledge and opinion vital to its function. To say that labor unions as such have nothing of value to contribute to that process and no vital or legitimate interest in it is to ignore the obvious facts of political and economic life and of their increasing interrelationship in modern society. Cf. DeMille v. American Federation of Radio Artists, 31 Cal.2d 137. That ostrichlike conception, if enforced by law, would deny those values both to unions and thus to that extent to their members, as also to the voting public in general. To compare restrictions necessarily resulting in this loss for the public good to others not creating it is to identify essentially different things. The cases are not identical. The loss inherent in restrictions upon expenditures for publicizing views is not necessarily involved in other expenditures.
It is this very difference, of course, which brings into play the First Amendment's prohibitions and the principles
If therefore it is an evil for organized groups to have unrestricted freedom to make expenditures for directly and openly publicizing their political views and information supporting them, but cf. Bowe v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, supra at 252, it does not follow that it is one which requires complete prohibition of the right. Ibid. That is neither consistent with the Amendment's spirit and purpose, ibid., nor essential to correction of the evil, whether it be considered corruptive influence or merely influence of undue or disproportionate political weight.
It is not necessary now to consider whether restricting the rights of individuals, singly or in organized relationships, to publicize their political views, rights often essential to their survival and always to their well-being, can be accommodated, in some instances, with the Amendment's purpose or justified because in legislative judgment those persons, unless restricted, acquire "undue influence" in the electoral process. For "undue influence" in this connection may represent no more than convincing weight of argument fully presented, which is the very thing the Amendment and the electoral process it protects were intended to bring out. And one may question how far legislators may go in accurately assessing undue or disproportionate weight as distinguished from making substantially accurate findings and conclusions concerning corruption.
Here the restriction in practical effect is prohibition, not regulation, when it is considered with respect to the objects of suppressing corruption and "undue influence." It is not a limitation, it is a prohibition upon expenditure of union funds in connection with a federal election. Unions can act and speak today only by spending money, as indeed is true of nearly every organization and even of individuals if their action is to be effective. As was said in the course of the Senate debates, the interdiction applies to "a dollar, or 50 cents, or $500 or $1,000." 93 Cong. Rec. 6438. There is no showing, legislative or otherwise, of corruption so widespread or of "undue influence" so dominating as could possibly justify so absolute a denial of these basic rights. The statute, whether in terms or as given meaning by the legislative history, is not narrowly drawn to meet the precise evils of corruption or "undue influence," if these were the controlling objects of the legislation. Nor, as will appear, were the restrictions specifically defined, if they can be considered to have been defined at all, so as to leave the union secure and unrestrained in the right to engage in activities within the region of the First Amendment's coverage but not encompassed by the legislation.
As has been stated, it was the "minority protection" idea which became the dominantly stressed one in the Senate debates, although at the most § 313 on its face gave only slight suggestion of this purpose. Nor was
Notwithstanding accepted canons of statutory construction, it certainly would be going far to expect laymen, or even lawyers, to read a statute so lacking in specificity concerning its basic criterion with any semblance of understanding of its limitations.
The lawyer might indeed read the Congressional Record and conclude that the source of the funds used was the crux. But even he would be left in broad and deep doubt whether it would turn multitudinous situations one way or the other. If the section is taken nevertheless to have been intended to draw the sponsor's line of distinction, the restriction it makes remains a drastic one. The effect is not merely one of minority protection. It is also one of majority prohibition. Cf. DeMille v. American Federation of Radio Artists, supra. Under the section as construed, the accepted principle of majority rule which has become a bulwark, indeed perhaps the leading characteristic, of collective activities is rejected in favor of atomized individual rule and action in matters of political advocacy. Ibid. Union activities in political publicity are confined to the use of funds received
It is true that the union could ask and in many instances secure the required explicit assents. It seems to be suggested that this might be done by expressly designating a specific portion of the dues for political uses, possibly though not at all clearly by by-law or constitutional provision, possibly by earmarking upon statements of dues payable. But it is not made clear whether the member could refuse to pay the earmarked portion and retain membership or would have to pay it to remain in that status. If the latter is true, the section affords little real "minority protection"; if the former, the dissentient is given all the benefit derived from the union's political publicity without having to pay any part of its cost. This is but another of the important and highly doubtful questions raised on the section's wording and construction.
If merely "minority or dissenter protection" were intended, it would be sufficient for securing this to permit the dissenting members to carry the burden of making known their position and to relieve them of any duty to pay dues or portions of them to be applied to the forbidden uses without jeopardy to their rights as members. This would be clearly sufficient, it would seem, to protect dissenting members against use of funds contributed by them for purposes they disapprove, but would not deprive the union of the right to use the funds of concurring members, more often than otherwise a majority, without securing their express consent in advance of the use.
It would be a very great infringement of individual as well as group freedoms, affecting vast numbers of our citizens, if labor unions could be deprived of all right of expression upon pending political matters affecting their interests. But we need not now decide whether § 313 has gone so far.
For if we assume that the objects said to have been the motivation for enacting § 313 can sustain substantial limitations upon the rights of free expression and assembly,
We have only the broad and indefinite words "expenditure in connection with any election." Apart from the literal sweep of "expenditure" and the large area of doubt created by efforts to confine it, what is "in connection with"?
Vagueness and uncertainty so vast and all-pervasive seeking to restrict or delimit First Amendment freedoms are wholly at war with the long-established constitutional principles surrounding their delimitation. They measure up neither to the requirement of narrow drafting to meet the precise evil sought to be curbed nor to the one that conduct proscribed must be defined with sufficient specificity not to blanket large areas of unforbidden conduct with doubt and uncertainty of coverage. In this respect the Amendment's policy adds its own force to that of due process in the definition of crime to forbid such consequences. Cf. Winters v. New York, supra. If the statute outlaws all union expenditures for expression of political views, it is a bludgeon ill-designed for curbing the evils said to justify its enactment, without also curbing the rights. If the section does less, the exact thing forbidden is too loosely defined and the consequent cloud cast over the things not proscribed but within the Amendment's bearing is far too great. In this aspect and in view of the criminal sanctions imposed, the section serves as a prior restraint upon the freedoms of expression and of assembly the Amendment was designed to secure. Only a master, if any, could walk the perilous wire strung by the section's criteria.
The force of these considerations is vastly multiplied when it is recalled that, unless they were effective to nullify the section in its application to publicizing activities, the broadly prohibitive and blanketing consequences
The argument for applying and sustaining the section in its presently attempted application has gone largely upon the assumption that it would be valid as applied to similar corporate publications, excepting possibly the regular press. The assumption is one not justified by any decision of this Court, which has the final voice in such matters. There are of course important legal and economic differences remaining between corporations and unincorporated associations, including labor unions, which justify large distinctions between them in legal treatment. But to whatever extent this may be true, it does not follow that the broadside and blanketing prohibitions here attempted in restriction of freedom of expression and assembly would be valid in their corporate applications. Corporations
Finally, if § 313 is taken in the Court's construction, in my opinion its constitutionality stands in no better case. For I know of nothing in the Amendment's policy or history which turns or permits turning the applicability of its protections upon the difference between regular and merely casual or occasional distributions. Indeed pamphleteering was a common mode of exercising freedom of the press before and at the time of the Amendment's adoption. It cannot have been intended to tolerate exclusion of this form of exercising that freedom. Nor does making the difference between distribution to dues-paying members only and distribution to outsiders or the public, whether with or without price, make a constitutional difference. The Amendment did not make its protections turn on whether the hearer or reader pays, or can pay, for the publication or the privilege of hearing the oral or written pronouncement. Neither freedom of speech and the press nor the right of peaceable assembly is restricted to persons who can and do pay.
A statute which, in the claimed interest of free and honest elections, curtails the very freedoms that make possible exercise of the franchise by an informed and thinking electorate, and does this by indiscriminate blanketing of every expenditure made in connection with an election, serving as a prior restraint upon expression not in fact forbidden as well as upon what is, cannot be squared with the First Amendment.
"Mr. PEPPER. . . .
"I wish to ask the Senator, if I may, this question: Would the newspaper called Labor, which is published by the Railway Labor Executives, be permitted to put out a special edition of the paper, for example, in support of President Truman, if he should be the Democratic candidate for the Presidency next year, and in opposition to the Senator from Ohio, if he should be the Republican nominee for the Presidency, stating that President Truman was a friend of labor and that the Senator from Ohio was not friendly to labor? Would that be called a political expenditure on the part of the labor organization?
"Mr. TAFT. If it were supported by union funds contributed by union members as union dues it would be a violation of the law, yes. It is exactly as if a railroad itself, using its stockholders' funds, published such an advertisement in the newspaper supporting one candidate as against another. If the paper called Labor is operated independently, if it derives its money from its subscribers, then of course there would be no violation. The prohibition is against a labor organization using its funds either as a contribution to a political campaign or as a direct expenditure of funds on its own behalf." (93 Cong. Rec. 6436.)
"Mr. PEPPER. . . . Yet the Senator from Ohio says that the newspaper Labor, published by the 21 railway labor executives, would not be permitted to publish a statement saying that it supported President Truman and opposed Candidate Taft, or vice versa. I say that would be a deprivation of the freedom of the press.
"Mr. TAFT. No; I said that union funds could not be used for that purpose. They could conduct a newspaper
"Mr. PEPPER, Mr. President, I call the attention of the Senator from Ohio to the following practice of the railway labor executives in the past: If a certain candidate was unfriendly to the interests of labor, they would publish a special edition of their paper and would put that special edition into circulation in the area where that candidate was running for office, and would place it in the hands of labor-union members and also in the hands of the public generally.
"Mr. TAFT. That is exactly what they should not be allowed to do.
"Mr. PEPPER. Very well; I want it definitely understood that the Senator from Ohio intends to outlaw that privilege on the part of labor. Now that I have that clear —
"Mr. TAFT. It is perfectly clear. It is perfectly clear that union funds are not to be used to interfere in political campaigns and with political candidates, either in favor of one candidate or against another candidate. . . ." (Id. 6437.)
"Mr. BARKLEY. So if there is a labor organization which is publishing a newspaper — not as a political newspaper, but for the benefit of its members — and if the expenses of that publication and distribution are paid from the funds raised by means of the payment of dues, and if all members of the union understand that a certain portion of their dues goes to the publication of that newspaper,
"Mr. TAFT. I am inclined to think so, just as a corporation gets out regular house organs to its members, and if that corporation interferes in a political election through one of those house organs it violates the Corrupt Practices Act. . . ." (Id. 6437-6438.)
"Mr. MAGNUSON. In order to determine the meaning of that, let us assume a concrete example. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters have a newspaper, which they have published for many years. It has a circulation of probably 200,000. It is distributed to members. On the newsstand, no price appears on it. No advertisements are accepted. Under this prohibition, would they be prohibited in the future from mentioning in their editorial columns, for their regular circulation, without adding anything additional, the support of a certain candidate or a certain political party?
"Mr. TAFT. We discussed that. We discussed the question of whether or not that newspaper was supported in effect by contributions of corporations or labor organizations, or was paid for by the people who received it. If the latter, I do not think it was an expenditure of union funds or contributions, but if the union simply takes the union funds and publishes a newspaper and uses it as a political organ in an effort to elect or to defeat one man that is prohibited." (Id. 6439-6440.)
"Mr. MAGNUSON. . . . If the pending bill should become law it would mean that all labor organs which are
"Mr. TAFT. No; I do not think it means that. The union can issue a newspaper, and can charge the members for the newspaper, that is, the members who buy copies of the newspaper, and the union can put such matters in the newspaper if it wants to. The union can separate the payment of dues from the payment for a newspaper if its members are willing to do so, that is, if the members are willing to subscribe to that kind of a newspaper. I presume the members would be willing to do so. A union can publish such a newspaper, or unions can do as was done last year, organize something like the PAC, a political organization, and receive direct contributions, just so long as members of the union know what they are contributing to, and the dues which they pay into the union treasury are not used for such purpose." (Id. 6440.)
"`SEC. 313. It is unlawful for any national bank, or any corporation organized by authority of any law of Congress, to make a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, or for any corporation whatever, or any labor organization to make a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election at which Presidential and Vice Presidential electors or a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to Congress are to be voted for, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any of the foregoing offices, or for any candidate, political committee, or other person to accept or receive any contribution prohibited by this section. Every corporation or labor organization which makes any contribution or expenditure in violation of this section shall be fined not more than $5,000; and every officer or director of any corporation, or officer of any labor organization, who consents to any contribution or expenditure by the corporation or labor organization, as the case may be, in violation of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. For the purposes of this section "labor organization" means any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work.'"
The additions of 1947 are italicized.
(6) "(b) That the defendant CIO also caused one thousand copies of the issue of the publication, `The CIO News', dated July 14, 1947, and designated as the issue known as Volume 10, No. 28, to be specially moved and transported from Washington, District of Columbia, into the Third Congressional District of the State of Maryland, by mailing the said one thousand extra copies to the Regional CIO Director at Baltimore, Maryland, and caused the funds of the said defendant CIO to be expended in printing, packaging and transportation of said extra copies of the periodical, `The CIO News', in connection with the aforesaid special election."
In 1909 the Criminal Code of the United States, which codified, revised and amended the penal laws of the country, was passed. 35 Stat. 1088. The Act of 1907 was reenacted as § 83. 35 Stat. 1103.
"It is elementary when the constitutionality of a statute is assailed, if the statute be reasonably susceptible of two interpretations, by one of which it would be unconstitutional and by the other valid, it is our plain duty to adopt that construction which will save the statute from constitutional infirmity. Knights Templars Indemnity Co. v. Jarman, 187 U.S. 197, 205. And unless this rule be considered as meaning that our duty is to first decide that a statute is unconstitutional and then proceed to hold that such ruling was unnecessary because the statute is susceptible of a meaning, which causes it not to be repugnant to the Constitution, the rule plainly must mean that where a statute is susceptible of two constructions, by one of which grave and doubtful constitutional questions arise and by the other of which such questions are avoided, our duty is to adopt the latter. Harriman v. Interstate Com. Comm., 211 U.S. 407."
"The case confronts us again with the duty our system places on this Court to say where the individual's freedom ends and the State's power begins. Choice on that border, now as always delicate, is perhaps more so where the usual presumption supporting legislation is balanced by the preferred place given in our scheme to the great, the indispensable democratic freedoms secured by the First Amendment." Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516, 529-30.
"For the First Amendment does not speak equivocally. It prohibits any law `abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.' It must be taken as a command of the broadest scope that explicit language, read in the context of a liberty-loving society, will allow." Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252, 263.
"Thus the Court is confronted with the necessity of passing on the validity of Section 304 of the Act, insofar as it relates to expenditures by labor organizations in connection with federal elections."
2. "It is insisted by the government that Congress could abridge the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (which the government concedes was done here) because of its constitutional control over the manner of holding elections, and its consequent power to prevent corruption therein, and to secure clean elections."
3. "In support of its argument that congressional control over elections may be exercised in abridgment of rights protected by the First Amendment, the government points to the case of United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75."
The Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, 43 Stat. 1070, amended the preexisting legislation forbidding a corporate "money contribution" by changing that term to "contribution" and defining this to include "a gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit, of money, or anything of value, and includes a contract, promise, or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make a contribution. . . ." Since "expenditure" was intended to broaden "contribution" in the 1947 amendment of § 313, it would seem that its scope could hardly be less broad than was given by the 1925 Act's definition to "contribution," although the Government does not appear to urge that "expenditure" incorporates that definition.
Since the 1947 amendment to § 313 was designed to make permanent the prohibitions of the 1943 Act, H.R. Rep. No. 245, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. 46; H.R. Rep. No. 510, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. 67-68 (Conference report to accompany H.R. 3020), and to expand them by adding "expenditures," the objects of the 1943 Act necessarily were carried forward into the 1947 amendment. Ibid. See also 93 Cong. Rec. 3428.
These inquiries generally proceeded with analogous ones relating to comparable activities of unions and comparable responses, touching for example P.A.C. activities; labor publications, regular or special; sponsored broadcasts, etc. Illustrative responses are set forth in note 12.
Difficulty arose and doubt was expressed also over what would constitute political comment, e.g., publishing an incumbent candidate's voting record, id. 6438, 6446, 6447, an instance in which the Senate sponsor at first disagreed with Senator Ball, but later apparently though somewhat equivocally agreed with him that publication of the record without comment further than "merely a bare statement of actual facts and simply direct quotations of what the man had said in the course of certain speeches on certain subjects" would not be forbidden, id. 6447; corporate broadcasts not for or against a candidate, but for a party or relating to issues in the election, said to be "again, a question of fact" and to depend on "how close it is to the election." Ibid. These instances are illustrative only, not comprehensive. Cf. note 29.
"This measure thus on its face would prevent a labor organization from holding a meeting for the purpose of advocating the election or defeat of a particular political candidate. It would preclude a labor organization from organizing a public gathering to advocate the election of a candidate pledged to the defeat of such a measure as Section 304. [§ 313 as amended.]
"A labor organization under this statute could not place at the disposal of a candidate its own hall. It could not engage radio time to denounce a candidate who had identified himself with interests fundamentally opposed to those basic to the interests of the defendants. Nor could it pay the salary or expenses of an individual for the purpose of permitting him to participate in a political campaign.
"Handbills, placards or union newspapers advising the union membership of the voting records of public officials could not be published or distributed at election time to advocate either the election of labor's friends or the defeat of labor's enemies. Paid advertisements and radio publications for the same purposes would be likewise proscribed.
"No matter how dangerous the threat presented by a candidate to the fundamental interests of a labor organization, it is powerless under this law to speak and to inform the people of its views. It could not send to a single member a penny postcard dealing with such a candidate. It could not even send a delegate or observer to a political convention.
"It could oppose bad laws but not `in connection with any election'. It could endorse good laws but at all times both its opposition and its endorsement would be undertaken at the peril of crossing the line at which such opposition or endorsement or advocacy could be regarded as being `in connection with any election'.
"Moreover, a labor organization could not sponsor a public meeting in connection with an election for the purpose of hearing the views of candidates of various political parties with respect to issues of importance to its membership since such a meeting would inevitably require expenditures.
"The traditional campaigns on the part of labor organizations prior to federal elections to `get out the vote' would, since they require expenditures, be proscribed by the statute. And the publication of voting guides and analyses of the voting records of candidates would likewise be condemned."
"Furthermore, this provision can be interpreted as going far beyond its apparent objectives, and as interfering with necessary business activities. It provides no exemption for corporations whose business is the publication of newspapers or the operation of radio stations. It makes no distinctions between expenditures made by such corporations for the purpose of influencing the results of an election, and other expenditures made by them in the normal course of their business `in connection with' an election. Thus it would raise a host of troublesome questions concerning the legality of many practices ordinarily engaged in by newspapers and radio stations." H.R. Doc. No. 334, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. 9-10.