Robel v. United States 389 U.S. 258 (1967)

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ROBEL v. UNITED STATES 389 U.S. 258 (1967)

Over two dissents, the warren court struck down on first amendment grounds a section of the subversive activities control act of 1950 that prohibited the employment of members of the Communist party in "defense facilities" designated by the secretary of defense. Because the statute failed to distinguish between those who supported the unlawful goals of the party and those who did not, wrote Chief Justice earl warren, its overbreadth violated the right of association protected by the first amendment. Warren rejected government arguments seeking to justify the provision by the war power and national security interests. "It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties—the freedom of association—which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile." Justices byron r. white and john marshall harlan dissented, observing that the majority "arrogates to itself an independent judgement of the requirements of national security."

Michael E. Parrish
(1986)