BARENBLATT v. UNITED STATES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
35
Petitioner 
Barenblatt
Respondent 
United States
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the United States)
Tags
Term:
Location: Congress
Facts of the Case 

During hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Lloyd Barenblatt, a university professor, refused to answer questions concerning his political and religious beliefs along with his associational activities. He was found in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with the committee investigation.

Question 

Did the House Committee's investigation into Barenblatt's affiliations with the Communist Party transgress his First Amendment protections which limit congressional inquiries?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for United States, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

The divided Court found that the Committee's actions did not violate the First Amendment and, thus, upheld Barenblatt's conviction for contempt of Congress. Justice Harlan noted that the First Amendment does not protect a witness from all lines of questioning. As long as the Congressional inquiry is pursued to "aid the legislative process" and to protect important government interests, then it is legitimate.

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BARENBLATT v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 04 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1958/1958_35>.
BARENBLATT v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1958/1958_35 (last visited April 4, 2014).
"BARENBLATT v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 4, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1958/1958_35.