Watkins v. United States (1957) 354 U.S. 178 Facts: Watkins was subpoenaed to testify in a congressional hearing to investigate alleged wrong doings of the Attorney General and the department of justice. Throughout the questioning the congressional committee asked questions that could result in Watkins incriminating himself because of his political beliefs. Due to this Watkins evoked his 5th Amendment right not to answer the question.
By doing so the congressional committee indicted him and the Court of appeals upheld Congress’s claim. Question: Does Article one of the Constitution bestow to congress the power to interrogate citizens out of a court of law? And can the 5th amendment be used in a congressional committee hearing? Decision: The decision was to reverse the judgement of the Court of Appeals and to dismiss the indictment. Reason: Congress must be able to conduct investigations especially into surveys of defects in our social, economic, or political system, claimed Chief justice Warren, in order to allow congress to relive those issues. With that in mind Congress has no authority to expose private affairs of persons without it being pertinent to the legislation in question. The Bill of Rights was applied to the Constitution to ensure safety of individual rights from and overbearing Congress. Congress can not ask vague questions to accidentally fall onto the answer(s) they want, specific questions must be used to retrieve the needed information.
Barenblatt v. United States (1959) 360 U.S. 109 Facts: Lloyd Barenblatt was a college professor called to testify before the congressional subcommittee House of Un-American Activities. When questioning began Barenblatt refused to answer regarding any past involvement with the Communist Party, firmly believing that past political beliefs are protected under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. The Supreme Court vacated his conviction for contempt of Congress and left it open for more consideration. His conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals.
Question(s): Does the 1st Amendment encompass political ideals? And if not does Congress have the right to ask those questions? Decision: Found in favor of the Congress and contended that the 1st Amendment had not been violated. Reasoning: Because of the idea to overthrow the government Congress has the right to identify a person as a member of the Communist Party. The Smith Act sets requirements that are not the measure of the general vision of a congressional investigation into overthrow and Congress must investigate step by step. Congress in this case was within its jurisdictional power and because of that the judiciary has not authority to intervene. Immigration and Naturalization Service v.
Chadha (1983) 462 U.S. 919 Facts: Chadha was an East Indian who was allowed into the United States on a student visa. After his visa expired he remained in the U.S. and soon after was asked to leave or give good reason why he should stay. Chadha applied for suspension of the deportation order. In 1974 an immigration judge through delegated power granted the suspension from the Attorney General. In December of 1975 Congress vetoed Section 244( C )(2) of the Nationality Act.
With the standing provision that only one house of Congress was needed to veto any section of the act. Chadha along with the INS believed that section 244(c) (2) violated the Constitution. The Court of Appeals ruled that the House of Representatives lacked Constitutional authority to order Chadha’s deportation. Question(s): Is the legislative veto constitutional through Article 1 section 1? Decision: The Congressional or legislative veto in Section 244 (C) (2) is unconstitutional. Reasoning: The primary reasoning is that a law must go through a very systematic process with the House of Representatives, Senate, and before becoming law must be presented to the President. This is a provision in the Constitution in Art. 1 section 7 clause 2. Mistretta v.
United States (1989) 488 U.S. 361 Facts: In 1984 Congress passed the Sentencing Act to neutralize the fairness among sentencing for those accused of the same crime. In December of 1987 right after the Act was imposed John Mistretta was indicted on 3 counts of selling cocaine. He moved to have the guidelines declared unconstitutional on the idea that the commission was in violation of the principles of separation of powers and Congress’s ability to delegate powers to the committee that determines the guidelines. The district court rejected his arguments.
He was sentenced to $1,000 fine, 18 months in jail, and 3-year term of supervised release. Mistretta then filed with the Court of Appeals. Question(s): Is the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 unconstitutional? Does Congress have the right to delegate its powers? Decision: The court affirmed the Western District of Missouri Reasoning: It was decided that delegation of powers is rooted in the ideal of separation of powers. With our complex society it would not be possible for Congress to perform as need without delegating some of its powers. Ex Parte Milligan (1866) 71 U.S.
(4Wall.) 2 Facts:.