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06/27/57 Walter Briehl, v. John Foster Dulles

June 27, 1957




Before EDGERTON, Chief Judge, and PRETTYMAN, WILBUR K. MILLER, BAZELON, FAHY, WASHINGTON, DANAHER and BASTIAN, Circuit Judges, sitting en banc.



EDGERTON, Chief Judge, announced the judgment and division of the court as follows:

The judgment of the District Court, granting the Secretary's motion for summary judgment, is affirmed. Judges Prettyman, Miller, Washington, Danaher and Bastian vote to affirm. Judges Edgerton and Bazelon vote to reverse. Judge Fahy votes to remand to the District Court with instructions to remand to the Secretary. Judge Burger took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Judge Prettyman files an opinion in which Judges Miller, Danaher and Bastian concur. Judge Washington files an opinion concurring in the result reached by Judges Prettyman, Miller, Danaher and Bastian. 101 U.S.App.D.C. 254, 248 F.2d 576. Judge Bazelon files a dissenting opinion in which Judge Edgerton concurs. 101 U.S.App.D.C. 257, 248 F.2d 579. Judge Edgerton also files a separate dissent. 101 U.S.App.D.C. 274, 248 F.2d 596. Judge Fahy files a dissenting opinion. 101 U.S.App.D.C. 275, 248 F.2d 597.

PRETTYMAN, Circuit Judge, with whom WILBUR K. MILLER, DANAHER and BASTIAN, Circuit Judges, concur: Appellant, Dr. Walter Briehl, applied in April, 1955, to the Department of State for renewal of a passport, stating his desire to attend an international psychoanalytic congress in Geneva and a World Mental Health Organization Congress in Istanbul. He was and is engaged in the practice of medicine, specializing in psychiatry. In prior years he had attended international meetings in this field. The Director of the Passport Office wrote him that "it would be helpful to the Department if you would furnish an affidavit setting forth whether you are now or ever have been a Communist, and explain your connections with" certain named organizations. Dr. Briehl's attorney replied, saying in part:

"My clients refuse to submit the affidavits your letters request. Your demands and the vague and formless standards of the passport regulations under which you purport to act are palpable violations of their Constitutional rights, including, but not limited to, the First, Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments."

The attorney described Dr. and Mrs. Briehl's professional interests and concluded by saying: "Demand is hereby made that passports as applied for by them be issued forthwith."

Thereupon the Director of the Passport Office wrote Dr. Briehl, saying in part:

"I regret to inform you that after careful consideration of your application for the renewal of passport facilities, the Department of State is obliged to disapprove your request tentatively on the ground that the granting of such further passport facilities is precluded under the provisions of Section 51.135 of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations. A copy of the pertinent Regulations is enclosed for your information.

"In cases coming within the purview of the Regulations above referred to, it is the practice of the Department to inform the applicant of the reasons for the disapproval of his request for passport facilities insofar as the security regulations will permit. In your case it has been alleged that you were a Communist."

Dr. Briehl's attorney replied in part:

"[My clients] wish you to be advised that they do not choose to offer any evidence in support of their applications for passports unless and until they are confronted with the informers your letter states have furnished you with proof that they have been, are, or intend to engage in acts contrary to the national interests of this country."

Thereafter the attorney wrote several times demanding the issuance of the passports and "an evidentiary hearing". An "informal" hearing was arranged. Dr. Briehl, his attorney, and two representatives of the State Department attended. The attorney made an extended statement, in the course of which he recounted the correspondence, described Dr. Briehl's purposes in seeking to go abroad, and made three points as follows:

"Our first point, therefore is that medicine has nothing to do with politics and you may not introduce and confuse the issue of his right to practice medicine and his right to study, and his right to participate in conferences by injecting this issue of politics in connection with his travel abroad. When a physician has a legitimate purpose in going abroad as was stated here, all issues of political affiliations, past or present, definite or indefinite, good or bad, are irrelevant. That will be our first point. . . . My second point is that everyone has the right to travel regardless of political considerations. . . . Now we turn to the third point. . . . that you confront us with the evidence against Dr. Briehl. . . . It is up to the Department to support those allegations by evidence and witnesses which we can examine and confront. . . . [We] have a right to what the courts have now called a quasijudicial hearing, . . . and . . . it is the Department's job to prove not only the facts with respect to each of these allegations but it is the Department's job to prove wherein each of these activities was wrong and wherein the activities were in violation of the laws of the United States."

The attorney later said:

". . . Dr. Briehl will not execute an affidavit of the kind you requested. He will not execute an affidavit with respect to past membership; he will not execute an affidavit with respect to present membership; he will not execute an affidavit with respect to future membership. And that does not apply only to the Communist Party situation, it applies to any political activities or associations or beliefs because those are things which we think are irrelevant to the right of travel and particularly irrelevant, in fact, incredibly so, to the right of a physician to travel for the purposes indicated in the application for the passport renewal."

In response to a letter from Dr. Briehl's attorney, counsel for the Board of Passport Appeals replied:

"It is understood that you appeared with your client, Dr. Briehl, at a hearing in the Passport Office on August 30, 1955. It is further understood that Dr. Briehl refused to execute an affidavit as to present or past membership in the Communist Party, having been requested to do so by the Passport Office. The Board has not been advised of any further processing of this case under Section 51.137 of the Passport Regulations.

"In these circumstances, the Board could not entertain an appeal from Dr. Briehl at this time. Your attention is invited to Sections 51.138 and 51.142 (22 CFR) of the Passport Regulations, and Sections 51.156(2) and 51.147 (22 CFR) of the Rules of the Board."

And a few days later the Passport Office wrote:

"You will recall that during the recent informal hearing in which you represented Dr. Briehl, he refused to explain or deny the allegations concerning him. He also refused to submit an affidavit setting forth whether he was or ever had been a member of the Communist Party.

"In view of the above, the Department knows of no further action which it can appropriately take in the case of Dr. Briehl."

Dr. Briehl filed a civil action in the District Court, naming the Secretary of State as defendant. He prayed for a judgment decreeing that he is entitled to a passport under the statutes, that the passport regulations of the Secretary of State are invalid and illegal, and that the refusal to renew the passport was in violation of his (Briehl's) rights under the Passport Act of 1926, the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations; enjoining the Secretary from continuing to deny the passport; and directing him to renew the passport.

The Secretary answered, and a motion and a cross motion for summary judgment were made, with supporting affidavits and exhibits. The court rendered a brief opinion, denied the plaintiff's motion, and granted the motion of the Secretary.

In this court Dr. Briehl divides his argument into four main points:

*fn1. Appellant's constitutional right to travel could not be conditioned upon his execution of a non-Communist affidavit or compliance with any other political test.

*fn2. Appellee's regulations deprive appellant of procedural due process and the quasi-judicial hearing to which he is entitled under the recent decisions of this Court.

*fn3. The regulations are not authorized by statute, they conflict with the will of Congress and were invalidity promulgated.

*fn4. The Secretary has not made out a case against appellant, even under the Regulations.

The arguments thus advanced involve consideration of six basic subjects. I

The nature of the Communist movement. Dr. Briehl's underlying premise, as shown by the statements we have quoted, is that Communist membership or affiliation is a matter of politics, an issue of political affiliation, a political consideration, a political test, and thus is subject to the same rules which apply to political beliefs generally. But it is not so. The Communist organization and program have long since passed beyond the area of mere politics and political opinion. All three branches of the Federal Government - the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary - have declared unequivocally that the Communist movement today is an international conspiracy aimed at world domination and a threat to the internal security of this country. The foreign policy and a large part of the fiscal policy of the Government are based upon that proposition.

The Congress declared in 1650:

"There exists a world Communist movement which, in its origins, its development, and its present practice, is a world-wide revolutionary movement whose purpose it is, by treachery, deceit, infiltration into other groups (governmental and otherwise), espionage, sabotage, terrorism, and any other means deemed necessary, to establish a Communist totalitarian dictatorship in the countries throughout the world through the medium of a world-wide Communist organization."1

President Truman declared in 1950:2

"WHEREAS world conquest by communist imperialism is the goal of the forces of aggression that have been loosed upon the world; and

"WHEREAS, if the goal of communist imperialism were to be achieved the people of this country would no longer enjoy the full and rich life they have with God's help built for themselves and their children; they would no longer enjoy the blessings of the freedom of worshipping as they severally choose, the freedom of reading and listening to what they choose, the right of free speech including the right to criticize their Government, the right to choose those who conduct their Government, the right to engage freely in collective bargaining, the right to engage freely in their own business enterprises, and the many other freedoms and rights which are a part of our way of life; . . .."

In his Inaugural Address of January, 1957, President Eisenhower said:

"The divisive force is international communism and the power that it controls.

"The designs of that power, dark in purpose, are clear in practice. It strives to seal forever the fate of those it has enslaved. It strives to break the ties that unite the free. And it strives to capture - to exploit for its own greater power - all forces of change in the world, especially the needs of the hungry and the hopes of the oppressed."3

In his State of the Union speech on January 10, 1957, the President had said: "The existence of a strongly armed imperialistic dictatorship poses a continuing threat to the free world's and thus to our own Nation's security and peace."4 He referred to "Communist persecution" and to "Soviet aggression". *fn5

The Supreme Court has held valid and sufficient the findings of Congress *fn6 and the findings of a jury *fn7 to the same import as the foregoing declarations. In Galvan v. Press the Court quoted the above-quoted congressional finding and said: "Certainly, we cannot say that this classification by Congress is so baseless as to be violative of due process and therefore beyond the power of Congress." *fn8 In American Communications Ass'n v. Douds *fn9 the Court, balancing the interest of the public against a partial abridgement of speech, upheld the statutory requirement that a person must swear he is not a member of the Communist Party before he can avail himself or his organization of the processes of the Labor Board. *fn10

There exists in some quarters a dogged insistence that the Communist movement be treated as any other political organization. It is as though one argued that, since opiates and aspirin both possess medicinal properties, they must be subjected to the same permissions and restrictions. The fact is that opiates are to be and are regulated because of their own peculiar characteristics. And so is the Communist movement and its affiliates. It would be inexcusably naive for any court to declare in the present state of the world that adherence to the Communist cause is a mere matter of politics or political opinion. We shall treat the Communist movement according to what the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have declared it to be. II

The power of government in foreign affairs. Whatever may be the dispute - and it has been extended and intense - as to the division of this power as between the President and the Congress, it seems settled beyond dispute that those two branches between them possess the totality of the power. In a long line of cases, beginning perhaps with Foster v. Neilson *fn11 and extending down to United States v. Curtiss-Wright Corp.,12 United States v. Belmont,13 Chicago & Southern Air Lines v. Waterman Corp,14 and Ludecke v. Watkins,15 the Supreme Court has laid down the rule that foreign affairs and decisions upon foreign policy are political matters entrusted by the Constitution to the political departments of the Government, and that the judiciary has no part in them. Mr. Justice Jackson, writing for the Court in the Chicago & Southern Air Lines case, stated the proposition in succinct, quotable terms.He wrote:

"The President, both as Commander-in-Chief and as the Nation's organ for foreign affairs, has available intelligence services whose reports are not and ought not to be published to the world. It would be intolerable that courts, without the relevant information, should review and perhaps nullify actions of the Executive taken on information properly held secret. Nor can courts sit in camera in order to be taken into executive confidences. But even if courts could require full disclosure, the very nature of executive decisions as to foreign policy is political, not judicial. Such decisions are wholly confided by our Constitution to the political departments of the government, Executive and Legislative. They are delicate, complex, and involve large elements of prophecy. They are and should be undertaken only by those directly responsible to the people whose welfare they advance or imperil. They are decisions of a kind for which the Judiciary has neither aptitude, facilities nor responsibility and which has long been held to belong in the domain of political power not subject to judicial intrusion or inquiry."16

The range of permissible judicial action in the case at bar is narrowed also by the fact that the Secretary is acting in the context of a national emergency. Only the President may declare an emergency; he has done so.17 The existence of an emergency indisputably enhances both executive and legislative power.18 The Secretary has acted pursuant to two acts of Congress,19 which not only recognize the administrative function of the executive in this area but also delegate to the executive any rule-making power it may have lacked. Thus the Secretary's acts are buttressed by the sovereign power to defend the nation.

There are of course in any government formed upon a constitution residual areas within which the judicial branch may act in respect to a power even so unfettered as is the executive power in foreign affairs.If the President were in gross defiance of constitutional limitations, or perhaps even of congressional prohibitions, the judiciary might act. The Supreme Court has also held20 that, where the Secretary refused to issue a passport solely upon an erroneous finding of mixed law and fact (in that case citizenship), a decree precluding his denial on that ground could issue.

It must be kept in mind that the power of the judiciary to inquire is vastly different from its power to act. A court often has jurisdiction to determine whether it has jurisdiction. The books are full of cases in which the courts have examined with meticulous care complaints alleging invalidity of executive action in foreign affairs. But seldom if ever have the courts found grounds to impose upon such executive action their own ideas of propriety or wisdom. So in the case at bar it is not suggested that the court could not entertain a complaint against the Secretary of State alleging the illegality of his action. The point is that having examined the allegations the court is without power to act save in a narrow and limited class of extraordinary circumstances.

The inquiry in the case before us is whether the Secretary has so far violated constitutional prescriptions or specific congressional limitations as to cast his action outside the exceedingly broad boundaries within ...

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