COMMUNIST PARTY V. SACB, 351 U. S. 115 (1956)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Communist Party v. SACB, 351 U.S. 115 (1956)

Communist Party v. Subserve Activities Control Board

No. 48

Argued November 17, 1955

Decided April 30, 1956

351 U.S. 115


An order of the Subversive Activities Control Board that petitioner register with the Attorney General as a "Communist action" organization, as required by the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, was appealed by petitioner to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. While the appeal was pending, petitioner filed a motion for leave to adduce additional evidence pursuant to § 14(a) of the Act, alleging, inter alia, that evidence which became available to petitioner subsequent to the administrative proceeding would establish that the testimony of three of the Attorney General's witnesses on which the Board relied was perjurious. The Government did not deny petitioner's allegations. The Court of Appeals denied the motion, upheld the constitutionality of the Act, and affirmed the Board's order. Both the Government and the Court of Appeals deemed the innocent testimony sufficient to sustain the Board's conclusion.

Held: the Court of Appeals erred in refusing to return the case to the Board for consideration of the new evidence proffered by petitioner's motion and affidavit. Pp. 351 U. S. 116-125.

(a) The case must be decided on the nonconstitutional issue, if the record calls for it, without reaching constitutional problems. P. 351 U. S. 122.

(b) The testimony of the three allegedly perjurious witnesses was not inconsequential in relation to the issues on which the Board had to pass. Pp. 351 U. S. 122-124.

(c) When uncontested challenge is made that a finding of subversive design by petitioner was in part the product of three perjurious witnesses, it does not remove the taint for a reviewing court to find that there is ample innocent testimony to support the Board's findings. Pp. 351 U. S. 124-125.

(d) Since the basis for challenging the testimony was not in existence when the proceedings were concluded before the Board, petitioner should be given leave to make its allegations before the Board in a proceeding under § 14(a) of the Act. P. 351 U. S. 125.

Page 351 U. S. 116

(e) The Board must reconsider its original determination in the light of the record freed from the challenge that now beclouds it, and must base its findings upon untainted evidence. P. 351 U. S. 125.

96 U.S.App.D.C. 66, 223 F.2d 531, reversed and remanded.

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