MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent Johnson, a former United States Congressman, was indicted and convicted on seven counts of violating the federal conflict of interest statute, 18 U. S. C. § 281 (1964 ed.),
The conspiracy of which Johnson and his three codefendants were found guilty consisted, in broad outline, of an agreement among Johnson, Congressman Frank Boykin of Alabama, and J. Kenneth Edlin and William L. Robinson who were connected with a Maryland savings and loan institution, whereby the two Congressmen would exert influence on the Department of Justice to obtain the dismissal of pending indictments of the loan company and its officers on mail fraud charges. It was further claimed that as a part of this general scheme Johnson read a speech favorable to independent savings
The bulk of the evidence submitted as to Johnson dealt with his financial transactions with the other conspirators, and with his activities in the Department of Justice. As to these aspects of the substantive counts and the conspiracy count, no substantial question is before us. 18 U. S. C. § 371 has long been held to encompass not only conspiracies that might involve loss of government funds, but also "any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of Government." Haas v. Henkel, 216 U.S. 462, 479. No argument is made, nor do we think that it could be successfully contended, that the Speech or Debate Clause reaches conduct, such as was involved in the attempt to influence the Department of Justice, that is in no wise related to the due functioning of the legislative process. It is the application of this broad conspiracy statute to an improperly motivated speech that raises the constitutional problem with which we deal.
The language of the Speech or Debate Clause clearly proscribes at least some of the evidence taken during trial. Extensive questioning went on concerning how much of the speech was written by Johnson himself, how much by his administrative assistant, and how much by outsiders representing the loan company.
The constitutional infirmity infecting this prosecution is not merely a matter of the introduction of inadmissible evidence. The attention given to the speech's substance and motivation was not an incidental part of the Government's case, which might have been avoided by
The Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution was approved at the Constitutional Convention without discussion and without opposition. See V Elliot's Debates 406 (1836 ed.); II Records of the Federal Convention 246 (Farrand ed. 1911). The present version of the clause was formulated by the Convention's Committee on Style, but the original vote of approval was of a slightly different formulation which repeated almost verbatim the language of Article V of the Articles of Confederation: "Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any court, or place out of Congress . . . ." The language of that Article, of which the present clause is only a slight modification, is in turn almost identical to the English Bill of Rights of 1689:
This formulation of 1689 was the culmination of a long struggle for parliamentary supremacy. Behind these simple phrases lies a history of conflict between the Commons and the Tudor and Stuart monarchs during which successive monarchs utilized the criminal and civil law to suppress and intimidate critical legislators.
The legislative privilege, protecting against possible prosecution by an unfriendly executive and conviction by a hostile judiciary, is one manifestation of the "practical security" for ensuring the independence of the legislature.
In part because the tradition of legislative privilege is so well established in our polity, there is very little judicial illumination of this clause. Clearly no precedent controls the decision in the case before us. This Court first dealt with the clause in Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168, a suit for false imprisonment alleging that the Speaker and several members of the House of Representatives ordered the petitioner to be arrested for contempt of Congress. The Court held first that Congress did not have power to order the arrest, and second that were it not for the privilege, the defendants would be liable. The difficult question was whether the participation of the defendants in passing the resolution ordering the arrest was "speech or debate." The Court held that the privilege should be read broadly, to include not only "words spoken in debate," but anything "generally done in a session of the House by one of its members in relation to the business before it." 103 U. S., at 204.
In Tenney v. Brandhove, 341 U.S. 367, at issue was whether legislative privilege protected a member of the California Legislature against a suit brought under the Civil Rights statute, 8 U. S. C. §§ 43, 47 (3) (1946 ed.), alleging that the legislator had used his official forum "to intimidate and silence plaintiff and deter and prevent him from effectively exercising his constitutional
Kilbourn and Tenney indicate that the legislative privilege will be read broadly to effectuate its purposes; neither case deals, however, with a criminal prosecution based upon an allegation that a member of Congress abused his position by conspiring to give a particular speech in return for remuneration from private interests. However reprehensible such conduct may be, we believe the Speech or Debate Clause extends at least so far as to prevent it from being made the basis of a criminal charge against a member of Congress of conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the due discharge of government functions. The essence of such a charge in this context is that the Congressman's conduct was improperly motivated, and as will appear that is precisely what the Speech or Debate Clause generally forecloses from executive and judicial inquiry.
Even though no English or American case casts bright light on the one before us
The Government argues that the clause was meant to prevent only prosecutions based upon the "content" of speech, such as libel actions, but not those founded on "the antecedent unlawful conduct of accepting or agreeing to accept a bribe." Brief of the United States, at 11. Although historically seditious libel was the most frequent instrument for intimidating legislators, this has never been the sole form of legal proceedings so employed,
We hold that a prosecution under a general criminal statute dependent on such inquiries necessarily contravenes
The Court of Appeals' opinion can be read as dismissing the conspiracy count in its entirety. The making of the speech, however, was only a part of the conspiracy charge. With all references to this aspect of the conspiracy eliminated, we think the Government should not be precluded from a new trial on this count, thus wholly purged of elements offensive to the Speech or Debate Clause.
The Court of Appeals held that Johnson was entitled to a new trial on the conflict of interest counts because the admission of evidence concerning the speech aspect of the conspiracy count was prejudicial on these other counts as well. The Government reserved the right to contest the order of a new trial, but, except for a footnote in its reply brief, it did not so argue in this Court; on the contrary it stated in oral argument that it stood solely on its position with reference to the conspiracy
For the foregoing reasons we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case to the District Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK took no part in the decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN, with whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS and MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
I concur in the limited holding of the Court that the use of the Congressman's speech during this particular trial—with an examination into its authorship, motivation
The Court explains its refusal to reach the substantive counts by referring to a single statement made by the Government's counsel at the outset of oral argument, p. 186, n. 16, ante. In the same colloquy, the Government remarked that it did not consider the issues raised by the substantive counts to be of general importance, and felt that the question of the effect of the tainted evidence on these counts would unavoidably require an examination of the entire 1,300-page record. Prior to oral argument, the Government had argued these issues exhaustively in the Court of Appeals, and had mentioned them in its petition for certiorari in compliance with Supreme Court Rule 40 (1) (d) (1) and (2), and in its reply brief on the merits. Both in its reply brief and later in oral argument, in answer to inquiries from the Bench, it contended that the evidence, arguments and instructions on the conspiracy count were distinct from the substantive counts. At best, then, the Government's position is ambiguous, if not puzzling.
After reading the record, it is my conclusion that the Court of Appeals erred in determining that the evidence concerning the speech infected the jury's judgment on the substantive counts. The evidence amply supports the prosecution's theory and the jury's verdict on these counts—that the respondent received over $20,000 for attempting to have the Justice Department dismiss an indictment against his co-conspirators, without disclosing his role in the enterprise. This is the classic example of a violation of § 281 by a Member of the Congress.
"Q. What, if anything, did Congressman Johnson do with the material which Mr. Robinson brought in and gave to him? A. As I recall, Mr. Johnson said that his administrative assistant . . . would go over the material, too and if I am not mistaken, Mr. Johnson called him in and Buarque took the material and I left the office with Mr. Buarque to discuss it some more.
"Q. After that meeting did you at any time thereafter have any contact either with Congressman Johnson or his office with regard to the speech? A. I telephoned a time or two there and I think I was called by Mr. Buarque and asked him about certain figures that the Institute—background material that might be supplied, and I did supply additional material and I believe Mr. Buarque sent me a draft, himself, with certain places, blank places for figures to be filled in. We had a discussion about some of the technical phases [sic] and information, statistical information and so forth.
"Q. You supplied some of the facts and figures for the draft that Mr. Buarque sent you? A. Yes.
"Q. What did you do with that draft once you had looked it over? A. Returned it."
See also cross-examination of Manual Buarque, App. 488-494; cross-examination of co-defendant Robinson, App. 772-775; cross-examination of defendant Johnson, Transcript 79-93.
"Q. And did you not tell Mr. Heflin when he came to see you in your office after that luncheon that he should work with Mr. Buarque on the preparation of the speech which was ultimately given on June 30? A. My statement is the same as it has always been that Mr. Heflin came to my office, representing himself as a public relations man, for a certain institute of Independent Savings and Loan Associations. He had the article of one of the local newspapers. A very unfair attack which he claimed had been made on savings and loans. He talked with me a very short time. I told him that Mr. Buarque, my administrative assistant, did all of my writing, all of the conversations and if there were any answers to be made,—he went out with me to the next room, met Mr. Buarque and I left the two together.
"Q. You told him, did you not, that he should work with Mr. Buarque on the matter since Mr. Buarque prepared your speeches? A. I told him at the time to discuss it with Mr. Buarque and any arrangements Mr. Buarque wanted to make, why, he, of course, would be cooperative with him.
"Q. Now, you say that at that time—I assume you meant at the time of the speech—that one savings association meant nothing more to you than another. Is that what you referred to? A. Not only then but following the speech, too.
"Q. I believe you testified on direct examination that you did not know the name of First Continental Savings and Loan or First Colony Savings and Loan at the time this speech was delivered on June 30, is that your testimony? A. I think my testimony is that one name did not mean more than another.
"Q. Now, your speech was finally delivered or submitted to the clerk and it was printed in the Congressional Record, and it stresses the value of commercial mortgage guaranty insurance, does it not? A. I think it has a reference to it, yes.
"Q. Isn't it a fact that at the time of the speech, First Continental and First Colony were the only independent savings and loan associations in the State of Maryland which carried commercial mortgage guaranty insurance? A. I have no knowledge of that and did not know at the time.
"Q. You have no knowledge of that? A. None, whatever.
"Q. As a matter of fact, that language in your speech, Congressman, was a part of the language which Mr. Edlin emphasized in his reprint, was it not? A. May I say that I did not see any of the so-called `reprints.' "
And see Transcript 91:
"Q. Congressman, do you mean to tell the jury that Mr. Buarque put that language in the speech about three indicted institutions and none convicted, and you did not inquire as to which particular institutions they were? A. He did not tell me which they were, the names.
"Q. Well, let me ask you this: How could you, if you did not know which institutions were under indictment, how could you make this statement in your speech:
" `I personally do not know any of these institutions nor any of the circumstances leading to their respective indictments. I hold no brief for any of them, one way or another.'
"That is the language of your speech, is it not? A. Yes, I said that is the prepared speech which had been testified that Mr. Buarque with some help from Heflin, prepared."
"I submit to you members of the jury, there is no other logical explanation you can make but that that speech was made solely for the purposes of Mr. Kenneth Edlin. It was a day's work for a day's pay for the man to whom he was selling his Congressional Office and his Congressional influence.
"Congressman Johnson has claimed on the stand in this case that he did not then know that the First Colony Savings and Loan Association was then under indictment.
"Now, you will recall the language in the speech, itself, that out of 400 independent savings and loan associations in Maryland, exactly three of them have been indicted and none convicted.
"[`]Personally, I do not know any of these indicted institutions nor any of the circumstances leading to their respective indictments. I hold no brief for any of them one way or the other.[']
"Congressman Johnson claimed under oath, Members of the Jury, that he did not even bother to check the facts to ascertain whether he could truthfully make such a statement in his speech.
"If so, I submit to you, it was utterly and completely irresponsible and reprehensible, but the Government submits that that is not so and that that was not a fact. The Government submits that Congressman Johnson did know at that time that both First Colony and Mr. Edlin were then under indictment in this very Court and that he, nevertheless made those statements in the speech which he delivered on June 30, 1960.
"Those statements, Members of the Jury, the Government submits were completely untrue and deceitful."
"Q. Now, Congressman, you told Mr. Estabrook on December 20, 1961, in London, did you not, that this speech had been made at the urging of several of your own people or of your own constituents? Is that not a fact? A. Which conference are you speaking of with Mr. Estabrook?
"Q. As a matter of fact, then, except for Mr. Buarque, whom you term a constituent, no constituent of yours ever spoke to you about making that speech on the floor of the House of Congress, is that not correct? A. It could be. I do not recall.
"Q. You would be—you would not deny it? A. No.
"Q. Is it not a fact that prior to that speech Congressman, you had never discussed savings and loan programs or problems with any of your constituents on the Eastern Shore of Maryland? A. Oh, I think possibly I had. I do not know to what degree but I want to say too, that the speech you refer to there was a motivation that Mr. Buarque testified that I was interested in a statewide election for the Senate in 1964."
"And we hereby will not draw the true Liberties of Parliament-men into question; to wit, for such matters which they do or speak in a parliamentary manner. But in this case there was a conspiracy between the Defendants to slander the state, and to raise sedition and discord between the king, his peers, and people; and this was not a parliamentary course.
"That every of the Defendants shall be imprisoned during the king's pleasure: Sir John Elliot to be imprisoned in the Tower of London, and the other Defendants in other prisons." 3 How. St. Tr., at 310.
See the account in Taswell-Langmead's English Constitutional History (Plucknett ed. 1960), at 376-378. After the Restoration, some 38 years after the trial, Parliament resolved that the judgment "was an illegal judgment, and against the freedom and privilege of Parliament." The House of Lords reversed the convictions in 1668. See Taswell-Langmead, supra, at 378, note 55.
"And so the question that we brought to the Court, and the only question that we think is properly involved in this case now, revolves around the taking of money to give a speech on the floor of Congress."
Question from the Bench: "Well, was there [to be] a new trial on the other phase of it?"
Government Counsel: "It [the Court of Appeals] ordered a new trial on the other phase. And we have not brought that issue here. We reserved it in our petition but we did not argue it, I might say largely because it cannot be determined without reading the whole record. The question in this case which we did bring here, and which we think is the question involved, is this: Article 1, Section 6, of the Constitution provides that for any speech or debate in either House, no member of Congress shall be questioned in any other place. And as we view it, the question is, does that Speech or Debate Clause mean that Congress is without power under the Constitution to make it a crime triable in court for a Congressman to take money to make a speech?"