United Public Workers of America v. Mitchell/Opinion of the Court

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Concurring Opinion
Dissenting Opinion
Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Wikipedia article

United States Supreme Court

330 U.S. 75

United Public Workers of America  v.  Mitchell

 Argued: Oct. 17, 1946. --- Decided: Feb 10, 1947

Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Hatch Act, [*] enacted in 1940, declares unlawful certain specified political activities of federal employees. [1] Section 9 forbids officers and employees in the executive branch of the Federal Government, with exceptions, from taking 'any active part in political management or in political campaigns.' [2] Section 15 declares that the activities theretofore determined by the United States Civil Service Commission to be prohibited to employees in the classified civil service of the United States by the civil service rules shall be deemed to be prohibited to federal employees covered by the Hatch Act. [3] These sections of the Act cover all federal officers and employees whether in the classified civil service or not and a penalty of dismissal from employment is imposed for violation. There is no designation of a single governmental agency for its enforcement.

For many years before the Hatch Act the Congress had authorized the exclusion of federal employees in the competitive classified service from active participation in political management and political campaigns. [4] In June, 1938, the Congressional authorization for exclusion had been made more effective by a Civil Service Commission disciplinary rule. [5] That power to discipline members of the competitive classified civil service continues in the Commission under the Hatch Act by virtue of the present applicability of the Executive Order No. 8705, March 5, 1941. The applicable Civil Service Commission rules are printed in the margin. [6] The only change in the Civil Service Rules relating to political activity, caused by the Hatch Act legislation, that is of significance in this case is the elimination on March 5, 1941, of the word 'privately' from the phrase 'to express privately their opinions.' This limitation to private expression had regulated classified personnel since 1907. [7]

The present appellants sought an injunction before a statutory three judge district court of the District of Columbia against appellees, members of the United States Civil Service Commission to prohibit them from enforcing against petitioners the provisions of the second sentence of § 9(a) of the Hatch Act for the reason that the sentence is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States. [8] A declaratory judgment of the unconstitutionality of the sentence was also sought. [9] The sentence referred to reads, 'No officer or employee in the executive branch of the Federal Government * * * shall take any active part in political management or in political campaigns.'

Various individual employees of the federal executive civil service and the United Public Workers of America, [10] a labor union with these and other executive employees as members, as a representative of all its members, joined in the suit. It is alleged that the individuals desire to engage in acts of political management and in political campaigns. Their purposes are as stated in the excerpt from the complaint set out in the margin. [11] From the affida vits it is plain, and we so assume, that these activities will be carried on completely outside of the hours of employment. Appellants challenge the second sentence of § 9(a) as unconstitutional for various reasons. They are set out below in the language of the complaint. [12]

None of the appellants, except George P. Poole, has violated the provisions of the Hatch Act. They wish to act contrary to its provisions and those of § 1 of the Civil Service Rules and desire a declaration of the legally permissible limits of regulation. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of a justiciable case or controversy. The District Court determined that each of these individual appellants had an interest in their claimed privilege of engaging in political activities, sufficient to give them a right to maintain this suit. United Federal Workers of America (C.I.O.) v. Mitchell, D.C., 56 F.Supp. 621, 624. The District Court further determined that the questioned provision of the Hatch Act was valid and that the complaint therefore failed to state a cause of action. It accordingly dismissed the complaint and granted summary judgment to defendants.

First. The judgment of the District Court was entered on September 26, 1944. An order was duly entered on October 26, 1944, allowing an appeal. 28 U.S.C. § 380a, 28 U.S.C.A. § 380a. The same section of the statutes provides: 'In the event that an appeal is taken under this section, the record shall be made up and the case docketed in the Supreme Court of the United States within sixty days from the time such appeal is allowed, under such rules as may be prescribed by the proper courts.' This appeal was not docketed in this Court until February 2, 1945, a date after the return date of the order and § 380a. Thereafter the Government suggested a lack of jurisdiction in this Court to consider the appeal because of the failure of appellants to docket the appeal in time. We postponed consideration of our jurisdiction over this appeal to the hearing. We proceed now o a disposition of this question.

To comply with the suggestion of § 380a, this Court adopted Rule 47. [13] In other cases of appeals, Rule 11 governs docketing. [14] If Rule 11 applies also to appeals under § 380a, we may hear this appeal for the steps for dismissal required by Rule 11 were not taken by the appellee. This is because upon the allowance of an appeal by a judge of the district court as here, Supreme Court Rules 10 and 36, the case is transferred from the district court to this Court and subsequent steps for dismissal or affirmance are to be taken here. [15] If, however, the above quoted provision of § 380a as to docketing is a prerequisite to the power of this Court to review, this appeal must fail.

Prior to the passage of § 380a, appeals docketed after the return day were governed by Rule 11, 275 U.S.Appendix. In principle it has long been in existence. [16] By the words of the rule, it appears that dismissal for appellant's tardiness in docketing requires a step by the appellee. Even after dismissal for failure to docket, the rule permits this Court to allow the appellant to docket. Nothing in the legislative history which has been called to our attention indicates that Congress intended its docketing provision to vary Rule 11. Direct appeal accomplishes the Congressional purpose of expediting review, of course, and is consistent with an unchanged practice as to dismissals. The time to docket may have been enlarged from the conventional return day of Rules 10 and 11 to bring continental uniformity, see Rule 10, or to give time for the preparation of a record which would often be large and not transcribed or printed. It will not expedite determination of constitutional questions to dismiss appeals because of errors of practice. In fact the sentence of § 380a on docketing seems deliberately to leave the practice on failure to docket to rules of court. We do not construe the requirement of docketing within sixty days as a limitation on our power to hear this appeal.

So far as our Rule 47 is concerned, we construe it as requiring in accordance wit § 380a the docketing in sixty days from the allowance of the appeal, instead of the forty days of our Rule 10 and that as to dismissals, the first sentence of Rule 47 requires the same practice for appeals under § 380a that Rule 11 does for other appeals. We think it desirable to have sufficient flexibility in the rule to permit extensions of the time for return in the unusual situations that occur when large records are involved. In view of the recognized Congressional purpose to quicken review under § 380a, the discretion to delay final hearing allowed under Rule 11 will be exercised only on a definite showing of need therefor to assure fair review. This leads us to hear this appeal. [17]

Second. At the threshold of consideration, we are called upon to decide whether the complaint states a controversy cognizable in this Court. We defer consideration of the cause of action of Mr. Poole until section Three of this opinion. The other individual employees have elaborated the grounds of their objection in individual affidavits for use in the hearing on the summary judgment. We select as an example one that contains the essential averments of all the others and print below the portions with significance in this suit. [18] Nothing similar to the fourth paragraph of the printed affidavit is contained in the other affidavits. The assumed controversy between affiant and the Civil Service Commission as to affiant's right to act as watcher at the polls on November 2, 1943, had long been moot when this complaint was filed. We do not therefore treat this allegation separately. The affidavits, it will be noticed, follow the generality of purpose expressed by the complaint. See note 11 supra. They declare a desire to act contrary to the rule against political activity but not that the rule has been violated. In this respect, we think they differ from the type of threat adjudicated in Railway Mail Association v. Corsi, 326 U.S. 88, 65 S.Ct. 1483, 89 L.Ed. 2072. In that case, the refusal to admit an applicant to membership in a labor union on account of race was involved. Admission had been refused. 326 U.S. at page 93, note 10, 65 S.Ct. at page 1487, 89 L.Ed. 2072. Definite action had also been taken in Hill v. Florida, 325 U.S. 538, 65 S.Ct. 1373, 89 L.Ed. 1782. In the Hill case an injunction had been sought and allowed against Hill and the Union forbidding Hill from acting as the business agent of the union and the Union from further functioning as a union until it complied with the state law. The threats which menaced the affiants of these affidavits in the case now being considered are closer to a general threat by officials to enforce those laws which they are charged to administer, compare Watson v. Buck, 313 U.S. 387, 400, 61 S.Ct. 962, 966, 85 L.Ed. 1416, than they are to the direct threat of punishment against a named organization for a completed act that made the Mail Association and the Hill cases justiciable.

As is well known the federal courts established pursuant to Article III of the Constitution do not render advisory opinions. [19] For adjudication of constitutional issues 'concrete legal issues, presented in actual cases, not abstractions' are requisite. [20] This is as true of declaratory judgments as any other field. [21] These appellants seem clearly to seek advisory opinions upon broad claims of rights protected by the First, Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution. As these appellants are classified employees, they have a right superior to the generality of citizens, compare Fairchild v. Hughes, 258 U.S. 126, 42 S.Ct. 274, 66 L.Ed. 499, but the facts of their personal interest in their civil rights, of the general threat of possible interference with those rights by the Civil Service Commission under its rules, if specified things are done by appellants, does not make a justiciable case or controversy. Appellants want to engage in 'political management and political campaigns,' to persuade others to follow appellants' views by discussion, speeches, articles and other acts reasonably designed to secure the selection of appellants' political choices. Such generality of objection is really an attack on the political expediency of the Hatch Act, not the presentation of legal issues. It is beyond the competence of courts to render such a decision. State of Texas v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 258 U.S. 158, 162, 42 S.Ct. 261, 262, 66 L.Ed. 531.

The power of courts, and ultimately of this Court to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress arises only when the interests of litigants require the use of this judicial authority for their protection against actual interference. A hypothetical threat is not enough. We can only speculate as to the kinds of political activity the appellants desire to engage in or as to the contents of their proposed public statements or the circumstances of their publication. It would not accord with judicial responsibility to adjudge, in a matter involving constitutionality, between the freedom of the individual and the requirements of public order except when definite rights appear upon the one side and definite prejudicial interferences upon the other. [22]

The Constitution allots the nation's judicial power to the federal courts. Unless these courts respect the limits of that unique authority, they intrude upon powers vested in the legislative or executive branches. Judicial adherence to the doctrine of the separation of powers preserves the courts for the decision of issues, between litigants, capable of effective determination. Judicial exposition upon political proposals is permissible only when necessary to decide definite issues between litigants. When the courts act continually within these constitutionally imposed boundaries of their power, their ability to perform their function as a balance for the people's protection against abuse of power by other branches of government remains unimpaired. Should the courts seek to expand their power so as to bring under their jurisdiction ill defined controversies over constitutional issues, they would become the organ of political theories. Such abuse of judicial power would properly meet rebuke and restriction from other branches. By these mutual checks and balances by and between the branches of government, democracy undertakes to preserve the liberties of the people from excessive concentrations of authority. No threat of interference by the Commission with rights of these appellants appears beyond that implied by the existence of the law and the regulations. Watson v. Buck, supra, 313 U.S. at page 400, 61 S.Ct. at page 966, 85 L.Ed. 1416. We should not take judicial cognizance of the situation presented on the part of the appellants considered in this subdivision of the opinion. These reasons lead us to conclude that the determination of the trial court, that the individual appellants, other than Poole, could maintain this action, was erroneous.

Third. The appellant Poole does present by the complaint and affidavit matters appropriate for judicial determination. [23] The affidavits filed by appellees confirm that Pool has been charged by the Commission with political activity and a proposed order for his removal from his position adopted subject to his right under Commission procedure to reply to the charges and to present further evidence in refutation. [24] We proceed to consider the controversy over constitutional power at issue between Poole and the Commiss on as defined by the charge and preliminary finding upon one side and the asmissions of Poole's affidavit upon the other. Our determination is limited to those facts. This proceeding so limited meets the requirements of defined rights and a definite threat to interfere with a possessor of the menaced rights by a penalty for an act done in violation of the claimed restraint. [25]

Because we conclude hereinafter that the prohibition of § 9 of the Hatch Act and Civil Service Rule 1, see notes 2 and 6 above, are valid, it is unnecessary to consider, as this is a declaratory judgment action, whether or not this appellant sufficiently alleges that an irreparable injury to him would result from his removal from his position. [26] Nor need we inquire whether or not a court of equity would enforce by injunction any judgment declaring rights. [27] Since Poole admits that he violated the rule against political activity and that removal from office is therefore mandatory under the act, there is no question as to the exhaustion of administrative remedies. The act provides no administrative or statutory review for the order of the Civil Service Commission. Compare Stark v. Wickard, 321 U.S. 288, 306 310, 64 S.Ct. 559, 569-571, 88 L.Ed. 733; Macauley v. Waterman S.S.C.orporation, 327 U.S. 540, 66 S.Ct. 712. As no prior proceeding, offering an effective remedy or otherwise, is pending in the courts, there is no problem of judicial discretion as to whether to take cognizance of this case. Brillhart v. Excess Insurance Co., 316 U.S. 491, 496, 497, dissent at page 500, 62 S.Ct. 1173, 1176, dissent at page 1178, 86 L.Ed. 1620; Larson v. General Motors Corporation, 2 Cir., 134 F.2d 450, 453. Under such circumstances, we see no reason why a declaratory judgment action, even though constitutional issues are involved, does not lie. See Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 57. Steele v. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co., 323 U.S. 192, 197, 207, 65 S.Ct. 226, 229, 234, 89 L.Ed. 173; Tunstall v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen, 323 U.S. 210, 212, et seq., 65 S.Ct. 235, 236, 89 L.Ed. 187. [*]

Fourth. This brings us to consider the narrow but important point involved in Poole's situation. [28] Poole's stated offense is taking an 'active part in political management or in political campaigns.' He was a ward executive committeeman of a political party and was politically active on election day as a worker at the polls and a paymaster for the services of other party workers. The issue for decision and the only one we decide is whether such a breach of the Hatch Act and Rule 1 of the Commission can, without violating the Constitution, be made the basis for disciplinary action.

When the issue is thus narrowed, the interference with free expression is seen in better proportion as compared with the requirements of orderly management of administrative personnel. Only while the employee is politically active, in the sense of Rule 1, must he withhold expression of opinion on public subjects. See note 6. We assume that Mr. Poole would be expected to comment publicly as committeeman on political matters, so that indirectly there is an attenuated interference. We accept appellant's contention that the nature of political rights reserved to the people by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are involved. The right claimed as inviolate may be stated as the right of a citizen to act as a party official or worker to further his own political views. Thus we have a measure of interference by the Hatch Act and the Rules with what otherwise would be the freedom of the civil servant under the First, Ninth and Tenth Amendments. And, if we look upon due process as a guarantee of freedom in those fields, there is a corresponding impairment of that right under the Fifth Amen ment. Appellants' objections under the Amendments are basically the same.

We do not find persuasion in appellants' argument that such activities during free time are not subject to regulation even though admittedly political activities cannot be indulged in during working hours. [29] The influence of political activity by government employees, if evil in its effects on the service, the employees or people dealing with them, is hardly less so because that activity takes place after hours. Of course, the question of the need for this regulation is for other branches of government rather than the courts. Our duty in this case ends if the Hatch Act provision under examination is constitutional.

Of course, it is accepted constitutional doctrine that these fundamental human rights are not absolutes. The requirements of residence and age must be met. The essential rights of the First Amendment in some instances are subject to the elemental need for order without which the guarantees of civil rights to others would be a mockery. [30] The powers granted by the Constitution to the Federal Government are subtracted from the totality of sovereignty originally in the states and the people. Therefore, when objection is made that the exercise of a federal power infringes upon rights reserved by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, the inquiry must be directed toward the granted power under which the action of the Union was taken. If granted power is found, necessarily the objection of invasion of those rights, reserved by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, must fail. Again this Court must balance the extent of the guarantees of freedom against a congressional enactment to protect a democratic society against the supposed evil of political partisanship by classified employees of government.

As pointed out hereinbefore in this opinion, the practice of excluding classified employees from party offices and personal political activity at the polls has been in effect for several decades. Some incidents similar to those that are under examination here have been before this Court and the prohibition against certain types of political activity by office holders has been upheld. The leading case was decided in 1882. Ex parte Curtis, 106 U.S. 371, 1 S.Ct. 381, 27 L.Ed. 232. There a subordinate United States employee was indicted for violation of an act that forbade employees who were not appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate from giving or receiving money for political purposes from or to other employees of the government on penalty of discharge and criminal punishment. Curtis urged that the statute was unconstitutional. This Court upheld the right of Congress to punish the infraction of this law. The decisive principle was the power of Congress, within reasonable limits, to regulate, so far as it might deem necessary, the political conduct of its employees. A list of prohibitions against acts by public officials that are permitted to other citizens was given. This Court said, 106 U.S. at page 373, 1 S.Ct. at page 384, 27 L.Ed. 232:

'The evident p rpose of congress in all this class of enactments has been to promote efficiency and integrity in the discharge of official duties, and to maintain proper discipline in the public service. Clearly such a purpose is within the just scope of legislative power, and it is not easy to see why the act now under consideration does not come fairly within the legitimate means to such an end.'

The right to contribute money through fellow employees to advance the contributor's political theories was held not to be protected by any Constitutional provision. It was held subject to regulation. A dissent by Mr. Justice Bradley emphasized the broad basis of the Court's opinion. He contended that a citizen's right to promote his political views could not be so restricted merely because he was an official of government. [31]

No other member of the Court joined in this dissent. The conclusion of the Court, that there was no constitutional bar to regulation of such financial contributions of public servants as distinguished from the exercise of political privileges such as the ballot, has found acceptance in the subsequent practice of Congress and the growth of the principle of required political neutrality for classified public servants as a sound element for efficiency. [32] The conviction that an actively partisan governmental personnel threatens good administration has deepened since Ex parte Curtis. Congress recognizes danger to the service in that political rather than official effort may earn advancement and to the public in that governmental favor may be channeled through political connections. [33]

In United States v. Wurzbach, 280 U.S. 396, 50 S.Ct. 167, 168, 74 L.Ed. 508, the doctrine of legislative power over actions of governmental officials was held valid when extended to members of Congress. The members of Congress were prohibited from receiving contributions for 'any political purpose whatever' from any other federal employees. Private citizens were not affected. The argument of unconstitutionality because of interference with the political rights of a citizen by that time was dismissed in a sentence. Compare United States v. Thayer, 209 U.S. 39, 28 S.Ct. 426, 52 L.Ed. 673.

The provisions of § 9 of the Hatch Act and the Civil Service Rule 1 are not dissimilar in purpose from the statutes against political contributions of money. The prohibitions now under discussion are directed at political contributions of energy by Government employees. These contributions, too, have a long background of disapproval. [34] Congress and the President are responsible for an efficient public service. If, in their judgment, efficiency may be best obtained by prohibiting active participation by classified employees in politics as party officers or workers, we see no constitutional objection. [35]

Another Congress may determine that on the whole, limitations on active political management by federal personnel are unwise. The teaching of experience has evidently led Congress to enact the Hatch Act provisions. The declare that the present supposed evils of political activity are beyond the power of Congress to redress would leave the nation impotent to deal with what many sincere men believe is a material threat to the democratic system. Congress is not politically naive or regardless of public welfare or that of the employees. It leaves untouched full participation by employees in political decisions at the ballot box and forbids only the partisan activity of federal personnel deemed offensive to efficiency. With that limitation only, employees may make their contributions to public affairs or protect their own interests, as before the passage of the act.

The argument that political neutrality is not indispensable to a merit system for federal employees may be accepted. But because it is not indispensable does not mean that it is not desirable or permissible. Modern American politics involves organized political parties. Many classifications of Government employees have been accustomed to work in politics-national, state and local-as a matter of principle or to assure their tenure. Congress may reasonably desire to limit party activity of federal employees so as to avoid a tendency toward a one-party system. It may have considered that parties would be more truly devoted to the public welfare if public servants were not over active politically.

Appellants urge that federal employees are protected by the Bill of Rights and that Congress may not 'enact a regulation providing that no Republican, Jew or Negro shall be appointed to federal office, or that no federal employee shall attend Mass or take any active part in missionary work.' None would deny such limitations on Congressional power but because there are some limitations it does not follow that a prohibition against acting as ward leader or worker at the polls is invalid. A reading of the Act and Rule 1, notes 2 and 6, supra, together with the Commission's determination [36] shows the wide range of public activities with which there is no interference by the legislation. It is only partisan political activity that is interdicted. It is active participation in political management and political campaigns. Expressions, pu lic or private, on public affairs, personalities and matters of public interest, not an objective of party action, are unrestricted by law so long as the Government employee does not direct his activities toward party success.

It is urged, however, that Congress has gone further than necessary in prohibiting political activity to all types of classified employees. It is pointed out by appellants 'that the impartiality of many of these is a matter of complete indifference to the effective performance' of their duties. [37] Mr. Poole would appear to be a good illustration for appellants' argument. The complaint states that he is a roller in the Mint. We take it this is a job calling for the qualities of a skilled mechanic and that it does not involve contact with the public. Nevertheless, if in free time he is engaged in political activity, Congress may have concluded that the activity may promote or retard his advancement or preferment with his superiors. Congress may have thought that Government employees are handy elements for leaders in political policy to use in building a political machine. For regulation of employees it is not necessary that the act regulated be anything more than an act reasonably deemed by Congress to interfere with the efficiency of the public service. There are hundreds of thousands of United States employees with positions no more influential upon policy determination than that of Mr. Poole. Evidently what Congress feared was the cumulative effect on employee morale of political activity by all employees who could be induced to participate actively. It does not seem to us an unconstitutional basis for legislation.

There is a suggestion that administrative workers may be barred, constitutionally, from political management and political campaigns while the industrial workers may not be barred, constitutionally, without an act 'narrowly drawn to define and punish specific conduct.' A ready answer, it seems to us, lies in the fact that the prohibition of § 9(a) of the Hatch Act 'applies without discrimination to all employees whether industrial or administrative' and that the Civil Service Rules, by § 15 made a part of the Hatch Act, makes clear that industrial workers are covered in the prohibition against political activity. Congress has determined that the presence of government employees, whether industrial or administrative, in the ranks of political party workers is bad. Whatever differences there may be between administrative employees of the Government and industrial workers in its employ are differences in detail so far as the constitutional power under review is concerned. Whether there are such differences and what weight to attach to them, are all matters of detail for Congress. We do not know whether the number of federal employees will expand or contract; whether the need for regulation of their political activities will increase or diminish. The use of the constitutional power of regulation is for Congress, not for the courts.

We have said that Congress may regulate the political conduct of Government employees 'within reasonable limits,' even though the regulation trenches to some extent up n unfettered political action. The determination of the extent to which political activities of governmental employees shall be regulated lies primarily with Congress. Courts will interfere only when such regulation passes beyond the general existing conception of governmental power. That conception develops from practice, history, and changing educational, social and economic conditions. The regulation of such activities as Poole carried on has the approval of long practice by the Commission, court decisions upon similar problems and a large body of informed public opinion. Congress and the administrative agencies have authority over the discipline and efficiency of the public service. When actions of civil servants in the judgment of Congress menace the integrity and the competency of the service, legislation to forestall such danger and adequate to maintain its usefulness is required. The Hatch Act is the answer of Congress to this need. We cannot say with such a background that these restrictions are unconstitutional.

Section 15 of the Hatch Act, note 3 above, defines an active part in political management or political campaigns as the same activities that the United States Civil Service Commission has determined to be prohibited to classified civil service employees by the provisions of the Civil Service rules when § 15 took effect July 19, 1940. 54 Stat. 767. The activities of Mr. Poole, as ward executive committeeman and a worker at the polls, obviously fall within the prohibitions of § 9 of the Hatch Act against taking an active part in political management and political campaigns. They are also covered by the prior determinations of the Commission. [38] We need to examine no further at this time into the validity of the definition of political activity and § 15. [39]

The judgment of the District Court is accordingly affirmed.


Mr. Justice MURPHY and Mr. Justice JACKSON took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE dissents as to Poole for the reasons stated by Mr. Justice BLACK. He does not pass upon the constitutional questions presented by the other appellants for the reason that he feels the controversy as to them is not yet appropriate for the discretionary exercise of declaratory judgment jurisdiction.


^1  August 2, 1939, 53 Stat. 1147, July 19, 1940, 54 Stat. 767, 56 Stat. 181, 986, 58 Stat. 136, 727, 59 Stat. 108, 658, 60 Stat., ch. 904, Pub.Law 684, 18 U.S.C.A. § 61 et seq. Only the first two are important for consideration of this case.

^2  18 U.S.C. § 61h, 18 U.S.C.A. § 61h:

'(a) It shall be unlawful for any person employed in the executive branch of the Federal Government, or any agency or department thereof, to use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or affecting the result thereof. No officer or employe in the executive branch of the Federal Government, or any agency or department thereof, except a part-time officer or part-time employee without compensation or with nominal compensation serving in connection with the existing war effort, other than in any capacity relating to the procurement or manufacture of war material shall take any active part in political management or in political campaigns. All such persons shall retain the right to vote as they may choose and to express their opinions on all political subjects and candidates. For the purposes of this section the term 'officer' or 'employee' shall not be construed to include (1) the President and Vice President of the United States; (2) persons whose compensation the result thereof. No officer or employee for the office of the President; (3) heads and assistant heads of executive departments; (4) officers who are appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who determine policies to be pursued by the United States in its relations with foreign powers or in the Nationwide administration of Federal Laws. * * *

'(b) Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be immediately removed from the position or office held by him, and thereafter no part of the funds appropriated by any Act of Congress for such position or office shall be used to pay the compensation of such person.' 53 Stat. 1147, 1148; 54 Stat. 767; 56 Stat. 181.

^3  18 U.S.C. § 61o, 18 U.S.C.A. § 61o.

'The provisions of this subchapter which prohibit persons to whom such provisions apply from taking any active part in political management or in political campaigns shall be deemed to prohibit the same activities on the part of such persons as the United States Civil Service Commission has heretofore determined are at the time this section takes effect prohibited on the part of employees in the classified civil service of the United States by the provisions of the civil-service rules prohibiting such employees from taking any active part in political management or in political campaigns.' 54 Stat. 767, 771.

^4  See Civil Service Act (1883), § 2, 22 Stat. 403, 404, 5 U.S.C.A. § 633:

'Sec. 2. That it shall be the duty of said commissioners:

'First. To aid the President, as he may request, in preparing suitable rules for carrying this act into effect, and when said rules shall have been promulgated it shall be the duty of all officers of the United States in the departments and offices to which any such rules may relate to aid, in all proper ways, in carrying said rules, and any modifications thereof, into effect.

'Second. And, among other things, said rules shall provide and declare, as nearly as the conditions of good administration will warrant, as follows:

'Sixth, that no person in said service has any right to use his official authority or influence to coerce the political action of any person or body.'

5 U.S.C. § 631, 5 U.S.C.A. § 631:

'The President is authorized to * * * establish regulations for the conduct of persons who may receive appointments in the civil service.'

First Annual Report, Civil Service Commission, Ex. Doc. No. 105, 48th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 45:

'In the exercise of the power vested in the President by the Constitution, and by virtue of the 1753d section of the Revised Statutes, and of the civil service act approved January 16, 1883, the following rules for the regulation and improvement of the executive civil service are hereby amended and promulgated:


'No person in said service shall use his official authority or influence either to coerce the political action of any person or body or to interfere with any election.'

Executive Order No. 642, June 3, 1907 (amended to consolidate without changing wording, Executive Order No. 655, June 15, 1907); Twenty-Fourth Annual Report, Civil Service Commission, House Doc. No. 600, 60th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 104:

'Section 1 of Rule I of the civil-service rules is hereby amended to read as follows:

'No person in the Executive civil service shall use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or affecting the result thereof. Persons who, by the provisions of these rules are in the competitive classified service, while retaining the right to vote as they please and to express privately their opinions on all political subjects, shall take no active part in political management or in political campaigns.'

^5  Civil Service Rules 15, 3 Fed.Reg. 1525.

^6  5 C.F.R., Cum.Supp., § 1.1: 'No interference with elections. No person in the executive civil service shall use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or affecting the results thereof. Persons who by the provisions of the rules in this chapter are in the competitive classified service, while retaining the right to vote as they please and to express their opinion on all political subjects, shall take no active part in political management or in political campaigns.'

Section 15.1 'Legal appointment necessary to compensation. Whenever the Commission finds, after due notice and opportunity for explanation, that any person has been appointed to or is holding any position, whether by original appointment, promotion, assignment, transfer, or reinstatement, in violation of the Civil Service Act or Rules, or of any Executive Order or any regulation of the Commission, or that any employee subject thereto has violated such Act, Rules, orders, or regulations, it shall certify the facts to the proper appointing officer with specific instructions as to discipline or dismissal of the person or employee affected. If the appointing officer fails to carry out the instructions of the Commission within 10 days after receipt thereof, the Commission shall certify the facts to the proper disbursing and auditing officers, and such officers shall make no payment or allowance of the salary or wages of any such person or employee thereafter accruing.'

See E.O. 8705, March 5, 1941, 6 Fed.Reg. 1313.

^7  See note 4, supra, and 5 C.F.R. § 1.1, June 1, 1938.

A change occurred also in Rule 15. This was to comply with a ruling of the Attorney General that the Hatch Act made removal from office a mandatory penalty for forbidden political activity. 40 Op.A.G. 1. See note 5, supra, for Rule 15 prior to Hatch Act.

^8  See 28 U.S.C. § 380a, 28 U.S.C.A. § 380a; § 11-306, District of Columbia Code.

^9  Judicial Code § 274d, 28 U.S.C. § 400, 28 U.S.C.A. § 400.

^10  No contention that appellant, United Public Workers of America (C.I.O), lacked capacity to bring this action is made by appellees. We need not consider the question here. McCandless v. Furlaud, 293 U.S. 67, 73, 74, 55 S.Ct. 42, 44, 45, 79 L.Ed. 202. See Fishgold v. Sullivan Drydock & Repair Corp., 328 U.S. 275, 66 S.Ct. 1105.

^11  'In discharge of their duties of citizenship, of their right to vote, and in exercise of their constitutional rights of freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, and the right to engage in political activity, the individual plaintiffs desire to engage in the following acts: write for publication letters and articles in support of candidates f r office; be connected editorially with publications which are identified with the legislative program of UFWA (former name of the present union appellant) and candidates who support it; solicit votes, aid in getting out voters, act as accredited checker, watcher, or challenger; transport voters to and from the polls without compensation therefor; participate in and help in organizing political parades; initiate petitions, and canvass for the signatures of others on such petitions; serve as party ward committeeman or other party official; and perform any and all acts not prohibited by any provision of law other than the second sentence of Section 9(a) and Section 15 of the Hatch Act, which constitute taking an active part in political management and political campaigns.'

^12  'The second sentence of Section 9(a) of the Hatch Act is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States as a deprivation of freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly in violation of the First Amendment.

'The second sentence of Section 9(a) of the Hatch Act is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States as a deprivation of the fundamental right of the people of the United States to engage in political activity, reserved to the people of the United States by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

'The second sentence of Section 9(a) of the Hatch Act is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, since it unreasonably prohibits Federal employees from engaging in activities which may be lawfully carried on by persons who are not Federal employees, thus constituting a deprivation of liberty in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

'The second sentence of Section 9(a) of the Hatch Act is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States since it effects an arbitrary and grossly unreasonable discrimination between employees of the Federal Government in the classified civil service subject to its provisions and employees specifically exempted therefrom, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

'The second sentence of Section 9(a) of the Hatch Act is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States since it is so vague and indefinite as to prohibit lawful activities as well as activities which are properly made unlawful by other provisions of law, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.'

^13  Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States, Rule 47, 28 U.S.C.A. following section 354:

'Appeals to this court under the Act of August 24, 1937, shall be governed, as far as may be, by the rules of this court regulating the procedure on appeal in other cases from courts of the United States; * * * The record shall be made up and the case docketed in this court within sixty days from the time the appeal is allowed.'

^14  Id., Rule 11: '1. It shall be the duty of the appellant to docket the case and file the record thereof with the clerk of this court by or before the return day, whether in vacation or in term time. But, for good cause shown, the justice or judge who signed the citation, or any justice of this court, may enlarge the time, before its expiration, the order of enlargement to be filed with the clerk of this court. If the appellant shall fail to comply with this rule, the appellee may have the cause docketed and the appeal dismissed upon producing a certificate, whether in term or vacation, from the clerk of the court wherein the judgment or decree was rendered, stating the case and certifying that such appeal has been duly allowed. And in no case shall the appellant be entitled to docket the cause and file the record after the appeal shall have been dismissed under this rule, unless by special leave of the court.'

^15  Steps allowed in the district court after the allowance of appeal, such as preparation of the record, extension of time and cost or supersedeas bonds, are for convenience taken in the court possessed of the record. Rules 10, 11 and 36, Supreme Court, 28 U.S.C.A. following section 354; Rule 72, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. following section 723c.

^16  3 Cranch 239; Bingham v. Morris, 7 Cranch 99, 3 L.Ed. 281; Sparrow v. Strong, 3 Wall. 97, 103, 18 L.Ed. 49. Compare Grigsby v. Purcell, 99 U.S. 505, 9 Otto 505, 25 L.Ed. 354.

^17  Compare Georgia Hardwood Lumber Co. v. Compania De Navegacion Transmar, S.A., 323 U.S. 334, 65 S.Ct. 293, 89 L.Ed. 280.

^18  'At this time, when the fate of the entire world is in the balance, I believe it is not only proper but an obligation for all citizens to participate actively in the making of the vital political decisions on which the success of the war and the permanence of the peace to follow so largely depend. For the purpose of participating in the making of these decisions it is my earnest desire to engage actively in political management and political campaigns. I wish to engage in such activity upon my own time, as a private citizen.

'I wish to engage in such activities on behalf of those candidates for public office who I believe will best serve the needs of this country and with the object of persuading others of the correctness of my judgments and of electing the candidates of my choice. This objective I wish to pursue by all proper means such as engaging in discussion, by speeches to convention , rallies and other assemblages, by publicizing my views in letters and articles for publication in newspapers and other periodicals, by aiding in the campaign of candidates for political office by posting banners and posters in public places, by distributing leaflets, by 'ringing doorbells', by addressing campaign literature, and by doing any and all acts of like character reasonably designed to assist in the election of candidates I favor.

'I desire to engage in these activities freely, openly, and without concealment. However, I understand that the second sentence of Section 9(a) of the Hatch Act and the Rules of the C.S.C. provide that if I engage in this activity, the Civil Service Commission will order that I be dismissed from federal employment. Such deprivation of my job in the federal government would be a source of immediate and serious financial loss and other injury to me.

'At the last Congressional election I was very much interested in the outcome of the campaign and offered to help the party of my choice by being a watcher at the polls. I obtained a watcher's certificate but I was advised that there might be some question of my right to use the certificate and retain my federal employment. Therefore, on November 1, 1943, the day before election, I called the regional office of the Civil Service Commission in Philadelphia and spoke to a person who gave his name as * * *. Mr. * * * stated that if I used my watcher's certificate, the Civil Service Commission would see that I was dismissed from my job at the * * * for violation of the Hatch Act. I, therefore, did not use the certificate as I had intended.

'I believe that Congress may not constitutionally abridge my right to engage in the political activities mentioned above. However, unless the courts prevent the Civil Service Commission from enforcing this unconstitutional law, I will be unable freely to exercise my rights as a citizen.' (Identifying words omitted.)

^19  Correspondence & Public Papers of John Jay, Vol. 3, p. 486; Hayburn's Case and notes, 2 Dall. 409, 1 L.Ed. 436; Alabama v. Arizona, 291 U.S. 286, 291, 54 S.Ct. 399, 401, 78 L.Ed. 798; Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 461, 65 S.Ct. 1384, 1389, 89 L.Ed. 1725.

^20  Electric Bond & Share Co. v. Securities and Exchange Commission, 303 U.S. 419, 443, 58 S.Ct. 678, 687, 82 L.Ed. 936, 115 A.L.R. 105; United States v. Appalachian Electric Power Co., 311 U.S. 377, 423, 61 S.Ct. 291, 306, 85 L.Ed. 243; Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, supra, 325 U.S. at page 461, 5 S.Ct. at page 1389, 89 L.Ed. 1725, and cases cited; Coffman v. Breeze Corporations, 323 U.S. 316, 324, 65 S.Ct. 298, 302, 89 L.Ed. 264, and cases cited.

^21  Altvater v. Freeman, 319 U.S. 359, 363, 63 S.Ct. 1115, 1117, 87 L.Ed. 1450.

^22  It has long been this Court's 'considered practice not to decide abstract, hypothetical or contingent questions, * * * or to decide any constitutional question in advance of the necessity for its decision, * * * or to formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied, * * * or to decide any constitutional question except with reference to the particular facts to which it is to be applied, * * *.' Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 461, 65 S.Ct. 1384, 1389, 89 L.Ed. 1725, and cases cited. See Alma Motor Co. v. Timken-Detroit Axle Co., 329 U.S. 129, 67 S.Ct. 231.

^23  'I have for a long time been interested in political activities. Both before and since my employment in the United States Mint, I have taken an active part in political campaigns and political management. In the 28th Ward, 7th Division in the City of Philadelphia I am and have been a Ward Executive Committeeman. In that position I have on many occasions taken an active part in political management and political campaigns. I have visited the residents of my Ward and solicited them to support my party and its candidates; I have acted as a watcher at the polls; I have contributed money to help pay its expenses; I have circulated campaign literature, placed banners and posters in public places, distributed leaflets, assisted in organizing political rallies and assemblies, and have done any and all acts which were asked of me in my capacity as a Ward Executive Committeeman. I have engaged in these activities both before and after my employment in the United States Mint. I intend to continue to engage in these activities on my own time as a private citizen, openly, freely, and without concealment.

'However, I have been served with a proposed order of the United States Civil Service Commission, dated January 12, 1944, which advises me that because of the political activities mentioned above, and for no other reason, 'it is, * * * the opinion of this Commission that George P. Poole, an employee of the United States Mint at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been guilty of political activity in violation of Section 1, Civil Service Rule I' and that unless I can refute the charges that I have engaged in political activity, I will be dismissed from my position as a Roller in the United States Mint at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.'

^24  The tentative change and finding reads:

'I. It is charged: That * * *

'The said George P. Poole held the political party office of Democratic Ward Executive Committeeman in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

'The said George P. Poole was politically active by aiding and assisting the Democratic Party in the capacity of worker at the polls on general election day, November 5, 1940, and assisted in the distribution of funds in paying party workers for their services on general election day, November 5, 1940.'

'III. The above described activity constitutes taking an active part in political management and in a political campaign in contravention of Section 1, Civil Service Rule I, and the regulations adopted by the Commissioners thereunder.'

^25  Maryland Casualty Co. v. Pacific Coal & Oil Co., 312 U.S. 270, 273, 61 S.Ct. 510, 512, 85 L.Ed. 826; Altvater v. Freeman, 319 U.S. 359, 364, 63 S.Ct. 1115, 1118, 87 L.Ed. 1450; Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. v. Wallace, 288 U.S. 249, 260, 53 S.Ct. 345, 347, 77 L.Ed. 730, 87 A.L.R. 1191.

^26  28 U.S.C. § 400, 28 U.S.C.A. § 400: 'In cases of actual controversy (except with respect to Federal taxes) the courts of the United States shall have power upon petition, declaration, complaint, or other appropriate pleadings to declare rights and other legal relations of any interested party petitioning for such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be prayed, and such declaration shall have the force and effect of a final judgment or decree and be reviewable as such.'

Aetna Life Insurance Co. of Hartford, Conn., v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 241, 57 S.Ct. 461, 464, 81 L.Ed. 617, 108 A.L.R. 1000; Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. v. Wallace, 288 U.S. 249, 264, 53 S.Ct. 345, 348, 77 L.Ed. 730, 87 A.L.R. 1191.

^27  See White v. Berry, 171 U.S. 366, 377, 18 S.Ct. 917, 921, 43 L.Ed. 199; In re Sawyer, 124 U.S. 200, 212, 8 S.Ct. 482, 488, 31 L.Ed. 402.

^28  We agree with the Government that the complaint does not fail to state a cause of action against the Commission because it seeks relief against the Commission's action under the Hatch Act instead of Rule 1 of the Commission. So far as Poole's controversy is concerned, the act and the rule are the same.

^29  In labor-management relationships, it has been recognized by this Court that circumstances might justify the prohibition by employers of union activity by employees on the employer's property, even though carried out during nonworking hours. Republic Aviation Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 324 U.S. 793, 803, 65 S.Ct. 982, 988, 89 L.Ed. 1372, 157 A.L.R. 1081.

^30  Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 571, 62 S.Ct. 766, 768, 86 L.Ed. 1031; Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 304, 310, 60 S.Ct. 900, 903, 906, 84 L.Ed. 1213, 128 A.L.R. 1352; Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 165, 60 S.Ct. 146, 152, 84 L.Ed. 155; De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, 364, 57 S.Ct. 255, 259, 81 L.Ed. 278; Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569, 574, 61 S.Ct. 762, 765, 85 L.Ed. 1049, 133 A.L.R. 1396; Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 169, 64 S.Ct. 438, 443, 88 L.Ed. 645; Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 8 Otto 145, 25 L.Ed. 244.

^31  106 U.S. 376, 377, 1 S.Ct. 386, 387, 27 L.Ed. 232: '* * * every citizen having the proper qualifications has the right to accept office, and to be a candidate therefor. This is a fundamental right of which the legislature cannot deprive the citizen, nor clog its exercise with conditions that are repugnant to his other fundamental rights. Such a condition I regard that imposed by the law in question to be. It prevents the citizen from co-operating with other citizens of his own choice in the promotion of his political views. * * * The whole thing seems to be absurd. Neither men's mouths nor their purses can be constitutionally tied up in that way.'

^32  Kaplan, Political Neutrality of the Civil Service, 1 Pub.Pers.Rev. 10; White, Civil Service in the Modern State (1930); Mosher and Kingsley, Public Personnel Administration (1936); White, Government Career Service (1935); Meriam, Public Personnel Problems (1938).

Military personnel is restricted in much the same manner. Army Regulations No. 600-10, p. 5: '6. Political activities of persons in military service.-a. General.-No member of the Army, while on active duty, will use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or affecting the course or outcome thereof. Such persons, while on active duty, retain the right to vote, to express their opinions privately and informally on all political subjects and candidates, and to become candidates for public office as permitted in these regulations. They will not be permitted to participate in any way in political management or political campaigns.'

An interesting discussion of the general subject of interference by federal officers in elections will be found in the Appendix to the Congressional Globe, Dec. 3, 1838-Feb. 19, 1839, pp. 157, 160 and 409, 411.

^33  86 Cong.Rec. 2338-2367, 2426-2442, 2696-2723, 2920-2963, 2969-2987, 9360-9380, 9426-9432, 9434-9463.

^34  Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents (1897), Harrison, vol. IV, p. 52; Id., Hayes, vol. VII, pp. 450-51. See note 4, supra.

When in 1891 New Bedford, Mass., under a rule removed a policeman for political activity, an opinion by Mr. Justice, then Judge, Holmes disposed summarily of McAuliffe's contention that the rule invaded his right to express his political opinion with the epigram, 'The petitioner may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be a policeman.' McAuliffe v. New Bedford, 155 Mass. 216, 220, 29 N.E. 517.

^35  Several states have similar provisions. Ala. Code (1940), tit. 12, § 157; Conn.Gen.Stat. (Supp.1939), c. 105a, § 698e; Ohio Gen.Code (Page, 1937), § 486-23; Pa.Stat.Ann. (Purdon, 1942), Tit. 71, § 741.904; R.I.Acts & Resolves, 1939, c. 661, p. 118.

^36  United States Civil Service Commission, Political Activity and Political Assessments, Form 1236, January 1944.

^37  'In the light of these wide variations in duties and reponsibility for public policy and its fair enforcement, a restriction reasonably designed to preserve the impartiality of a Collector of the Revenue, a U.S. Marshal, an F.B.I. or Treasury agent may be utterly absurd and unjustified when applied to a lens grinder, a stock clerk, a machinist, or an elevator operator. It is therefore impossible both to observe reasonable regard for constitutional rights and to enact sweeping prohibitions as to political rights applicable to all Federal employees whatever the nature of their duties. In dealing with so complicated and varied a subject matter, a hatchet cannot readily be substituted for a scalpel.'

^38  United States Civil Service Commission, Political Activity and Political Assessments, Form 1236, September 1939:

'15. Committees.-Service on or for any political committee or similar organization is prohibited. * * *

'20. Activity at the polls and for candidates.-* * *

'It is the duty of an employee to avoid any offensive activity at primary and regular elections. He must refrain from soliciting votes, assisting voters to mark ballots, helping to get out the voters on registration and election days, acting as the accredited checker, watcher, or challenger of any party or faction, assisting in counting the vote, or engaging in any other activity at the polls except the marking and depositing of his own ballot.'

^39  United States v. Wurzbach, 280 U.S. 396, 399, 50 S.Ct. 167, 169, 74 L.Ed. 508.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).