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Case Basics
Docket No. 
U.S. Servicemen's Fund
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
Facts of the Case 

In an effort to investigate the "administration, operation, and enforcement" of the Internal Security Act of 1950, the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security subpoenaed a bank for the financial records of the United States Servicemen's Fund. This nonprofit organization had actively published newsletters and sponsored coffeehouses in which discussions critical of the Vietnam War took place. The Fund challenged the subpoena arguing that its enforcement would violate the organization's First Amendment rights since the bank records contained information about the Fund's membership.


Did the actions of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security fall within the sphere of legitimate legislative activity and not violate the First Amendment?

Decision: 8 votes for Eastland, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Article 1, Section 6, Paragraph 1: Speech or Debate Clause

The Court held that the Senate Subcommittee's actions were legitimate and did not violate the Fund's First Amendment rights. Chief Justice Burger argued that the power to investigate, even through a compulsory mechanism like a subpoena, is "inherent in the power to make laws." Furthermore, the investigation was related to and aided in furthering a "legitimate task of Congress," namely, the investigation of the Internal Security Act. Burger disregarded the Fund's claim that the investigation was being conducted to expose its beliefs, many of which were "unorthodox or unpopular." He reasoned that the legitimacy of a congressional investigatory action is not derived from the motives of the members or by the information that the investigation uncovers.

Cite this Page
EASTLAND v. U.S. SERVICEMEN'S FUND. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1974/1974_73_1923>.
EASTLAND v. U.S. SERVICEMEN'S FUND, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1974/1974_73_1923 (last visited August 26, 2015).
"EASTLAND v. U.S. SERVICEMEN'S FUND," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1974/1974_73_1923.