HANNAH V. LARCHE, 363 U. S. 420 (1960)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hannah v. Larche, 363 U.S. 420 (1960)

Hannah v. Larche

No. 549

Argued January 18-19, 1960

Decided June 20, 1960*

363 U.S. 420


The Civil Rights Act of 1957 created in the Executive Branch of the Government a Commission on Civil Rights to investigate written, sworn allegations that persons have been discriminatorily deprived of their right to vote on account of their color, race, religion, or national origin, to study and collect information "concerning legal developments constituting a denial of equal protection of the laws," and to report to the President and Congress. The Commission is authorized to subpoena witnesses and documents and to conduct hearings. The Act prescribes certain rules of procedure; but nothing in the Act requires the Commission to afford persons accused of discrimination the right to be apprised as to the specific charges against them or as to the identity of their accusers, or the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses appearing at Commission hearings; and the Commission prescribed supplementary rules of procedure which deny such rights in hearings conducted by it.


1. In the light of the legislative history of the Act, the Commission was authorized by Congress to adopt such rules of procedure. Pp. 363 U. S. 430-439.

2. Since the Commission makes no adjudications, but acts solely as an investigative and factfinding agency, these rules of procedure do not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Morgan v. United States, 304 U. S. 1; Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U. S. 123; Greene v. McElroy, 360 U. S. 474, distinguished. Pp. 363 U. S. 440-452.

3. Such rules of procedure do not violate the Sixth Amendment, since that Amendment is specifically limited to "criminal prosecutions," and the proceedings of the Commission do not fall in that category. P. 363 U. S. 440 n. 16.

Page 363 U. S. 421

4. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 is appropriate legislation under the Fifteenth Amendment. P. 363 U. S. 452.

5. Section 7 of the Administrative Procedure Act is not applicable to hearings conducted by this Commission. Pp. 363 U. S. 452-453.

177 F.Supp. 816 reversed.

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