On This Date in Legal History

In 1956 the State Department refused to act upon applications for passports filed by American citizens, Rockwell Kent and Walter Briehl, who were allegedly affiliated with the Communist Party. Both men sued. The District Court dismissed their case, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision. On April 10, 1958, the case of Kent v. Dulles was argued before the United States Supreme Court. You can listen to the proceedings at https://goo.gl/hMS79W. On June 16, 1958, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s decision in a 5:4 opinion.


Associate Justice William O Douglas

Justice Douglas, writing for the majority, explained– “we deal here with a constitutional right of the citizen, a right which we must assume Congress will be faithful to respect. We would be faced with important constitutional questions were we to hold that Congress…had given the Secretary authority to withhold passports to citizens because of their beliefs or associations. Congress has made no such provision in explicit terms; and absent one, the Secretary may not employ that standard to restrict the citizens’ right of free movement.”

About Tina Nelson
Tina Nelson

Tina Nelson is an attorney and mom. She created the LAWSUIT™ board game to teach her three children about the law. The game was an instant success. Copyrights and a patent were obtained, and Professional Games, Inc. was born. Professional Games, Inc. created this blog to educate and keep its friends and customers regularly updated about our American legal system.
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