Gravel v. United States


Gravel v. United States

SCOTUSCase
Litigants=Gravel v. United States
ArgueDateA=April 19
ArgueDateB=20
ArgueYear=1972
DecideDate=June 29
DecideYear=1972
FullName=Gravel v. United States
USVol=408
USPage=606
Citation=
Prior=
Subsequent=
Holding=The privileges of the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause enjoyed by members of Congress also extend to Congressional aides, but not to activity outside the legislative process.
SCOTUS=1972-1975
Majority=White
JoinMajority=Burger,Blackmun,Powell,Rehnquist
Dissent=Stewart
Dissent2=Douglas
Dissent3=Brennan
JoinDissent3=Douglas, Marshall
NotParticipating=
LawsApplied=

"Gravel v. United States", 408 U.S. 606 (1972) was a case regarding the protections offered by the Speech or Debate Clause of the United States Constitution. In the case, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the privileges and immunities of the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause enjoyed by members of Congress also extend to Congressional aides, but not to activity outside the legislative process.

History

On Tuesday, June 15, 1971, Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) received a copy of the Pentagon Papers from Ben Bagdikian, an editor at "The Washington Post." [http://www.democracynow.org/2007/7/2/how_the_pentagon_papers_came_to "How the Pentagon Papers Came to be Published by the Beacon Press: A Remarkable Story Told by Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Dem Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel and Unitarian Leader Robert West." "Democracy Now." July 2, 2007.] Accessed June 14, 2008.] Over the next several days, Gravel (who was dyslexic) was assisted by his congressional office staff in reading and analyzing the report. Worried his home might be raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gravel smuggled the report (which filled two large suitcases) into his congressional office, which was then guarded by disabled Vietnam veterans.

On the evening of June 29, 1971, Gravel attempted to read the Pentagon Papers into the "Congressional Record.""Preface." In "The Pentagon Papers: The Defense Department History of United States Decisionmaking on Vietnam." Vol. 1. Senator Gravel Edition. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971.] A lack of a quorum, however, prevented the Senate from convening. As chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds, Gravel convened a meeting of the subcommittee and spent an hour reading part of the Pentagon Papers into the record. Prevented by his dyslexia from continuing, Gravel had the remainder of the Pentagon Papers entered into the record.

Gravel subsequently arranged to have the Pentagon Papers published by a private publisher. The publisher was Beacon Press a non-profit book publisher owned by the Unitarian Universalist Association.

A federal grand jury was subsequently empaneled to investigate possible violations of federal law in the release of the report. Leonard Rodberg, a Gravel aide, was subpoenaed testify about his role in obtaining and arranging for publication of the Pentagon Papers. Senator Gravel intervened and asked a court to quash the subpoena, contending forcing Rodberg to testify violated the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution. ["Gravel v. United States," 408 U.S. 606, 608-609 (1972).]

A district court refused to grant the motion to quash but did agree to proscribed certain questions."United States v. Doe," 332 F.Supp. 930 (Mass.1971).] The trial court also held that publication of the Pentagon Papers by a private press was not protected by the Speech or Debate Clause. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's ruling (although it modified the categories of barred questions). ["United States v. Doe," 455 F.2d 753 (CA1 1972).] The United States appealed the barring of questions, and Senator Gravel appealed the ruling regarding publication. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari. ["Gravel v. United States," 405 U.S. 916 (1972).]

Majority holding

In a 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court held that the privileges of the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause enjoyed by members of Congress also extend to Congressional aides. Rejecting the reasoning of the court of appeals and substituting its own, "...the privilege available to the aide is confined to those services that would be immune legislative conduct if performed by the Senator himself," the Court declared. ["Gravel v. United States," 408 U.S. 606, 622, 627.] However, the Court refused to protect congressional aides from prosecution for criminal conduct, or from testifying at trials or grand jury proceedings involving third-party crimes. ["Gravel v. United States," 408 U.S. 606, 622.] The Supreme Court also threw out the lower courts' order permitting some questions and barring others, concluding that if the testimony is privileged then the privilege is absolute. ["Gravel v. United States," 408 U.S. 606, 627-629.]

However, the Court upheld the district court's ruling regarding private publication. " [Private] publication by Senator Gravel through the cooperation of Beacon Press was in no way essential to the deliberations of the Senate; nor does questioning as to private publication threaten the integrity or independence of the Senate by impermissibly exposing its deliberations to executive influence." ["Gravel v. United States," 408 U.S. 606, 625.]

Dissents

Associate Justice Potter Stewart dissented in part, concluding that the Court had too narrowly construed the protections granted by the Speech or Debate Clause. Justice Stewart would have extended the protections of the clause to cover testify before a grand jury about preparing for legislative acts as well. ["Gravel v. United States," 408 U.S. 606, 629ff.]

In his dissent, Associate Justice William O. Douglas argued that the private publication was an adjunct of speech or debate function of Senator Gravel, and was therefore protected speech. ["Gravel v. United States," 408 U.S. 606, 633ff.]

In his dissent, Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. disagreed with the majority's narrow construction of the Speech or Debate Clause, and defined a much broader conception of the right. Brennan was joined by Justices Douglas and Marshall. ["Gravel v. United States," 408 U.S. 606, 633ff.]

Assessment

The case is considered a landmark for not only reaffirming the constitutional protections offered by the Speech or Debate Clause, but for narrowing it as well. ["Evidentiary Implications of the Speech or Debate Clause." "Yale Law Journal." 88:6 (May, 1979); "The Speech or Debate Clause Protection of Congressional Aides." "Yale Law Journal." 91:5 (April 1982); Epstein, Lee and Walker, Thomas G. "Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints." 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2004. ISBN 1568028229]

ee also

*List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 408

References

External links

* [http://laws.findlaw.com/us/408/606.html Full text of the decision courtesy of Findlaw.com]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • United States presidential election, 2008 — 2004 ← November 4, 2008 → 2012 …   Wikipedia

  • United States third party and independent presidential candidates, 2008 — 2004 ← → 2012 …   Wikipedia

  • United States Presidential Election of 2008 — ▪ United States government Introduction  On November 4, 2008, after a campaign that lasted nearly two years, Americans elected Illinois senator Barack Obama (Obama, Barack) their 44th president. The result was historic, as Obama, a first term U.S …   Universalium

  • United States presidential election, 2008 timeline — The following is a timeline of events leading up to the upcoming 2008 U.S. presidential election:2002* October 7 Maureen Dowd writes article in The New York Times entitled Can Hillary Upgrade? which claims that Hillary Clinton, serving as the… …   Wikipedia

  • United States — a republic in the N Western Hemisphere comprising 48 conterminous states, the District of Columbia, and Alaska in North America, and Hawaii in the N Pacific. 267,954,767; conterminous United States, 3,022,387 sq. mi. (7,827,982 sq. km); with… …   Universalium

  • United States presidential election, 1972 — Infobox Election election name = United States presidential election, 1972 country = United States type = presidential ongoing = no previous election = United States presidential election, 1968 previous year = 1968 next election = United States… …   Wikipedia

  • United States Senate election in Alaska, 1980 — The Alaska United States Senate election of 1980 coincided with a large Republican Party victory across the country, including winning majority in the Senate and Presidency. Alaska s 3rd class seat, held by Democrats, was captured by… …   Wikipedia

  • United States presidential election debates, 2008 — The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) sponsored four debates for the 2008 U.S. presidential general election, which took place at various locations around the United States in September and October 2008. Three of the debates… …   Wikipedia

  • United States presidential election in Washington, 2008 — Democratic Primary= By the time that the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary process had reached Washington State on February 9th, the field had been narrowed down to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Mike Gravel. On Saturday, Feb. 9th,… …   Wikipedia

  • United States Libertarian Party — Parti libertarien (États Unis) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Parti libertarien. Libertarian Party …   Wikipédia en Français


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.