GRAVEL v. UNITED STATES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
71-1017
Petitioner 
Gravel
Respondent 
United States
Consolidation 
United States v. Gravel, No. 71-1026
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the Senate of the United States as amicus curiae)
(Argued the cause for Gravel)
(Argued the cause for the Senate of the United States as amicus curiae)
(Argued the cause for Gravel)
(Argued the cause for the United States)
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Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 1971, Senator Mike Gravel received a copy of the Pentagon Papers: a set of classified documents concerning U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war. Gravel then introduced the study, in its entirety, into the record of a Senate Subcommittee meeting. Gravel also arranged for the private publication of the papers by the Beacon Press. A federal grand jury subpoenaed Leonard Rodberg, one of Gravel's aides, to testify about his role in the acquisition and publication of the papers.

Question 

Did the subpoena of Senator Gravel's aide violate the Speech and Debate Clause of Article I of the Constitution?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Gravel, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Article 1, Section 6, Paragraph 1: Speech or Debate Clause

Yes. The Court held that because the work of aides was critical to the performance of legislative tasks and duties, they were nothing less than legislators' "alter egos" and thus immune from subpoenas by the Speech and Debate Clause. Aides were exempted from grand jury questioning so long as Senators invoked the privilege on their behalf. Moreover, the Court held that the protections of the Speech and Debate Clause did not extend beyond the legislative sphere, ruling that Senator Gravel's arrangements with the Beacon Press were not constitutionally protected.

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GRAVEL v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 16 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_71_1017/>.
GRAVEL v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_71_1017/ (last visited December 16, 2014).
"GRAVEL v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 16, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_71_1017/.