Galvan v. Press

347 U.S. 522
Galvan v. Press
Argued: January 11-12, 1954
Decided: May 24, 1954


Messrs. Harry Wolpin and A. L. Wirin, Los Angeles, for petitioner.
Mr. Oscar H. Davis, Washington, D.C., for respondent.
Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Dissenting Opinion

Mr. Justice BLACK, with whom Mr. Justice DOUGLAS concurs, dissenting.

Petitioner has lived in this country thirty-six years, having come here from Mexico in 1918 when only seven years of age. He has an American wife to whom he has been married for twenty years, four children all born here, and a stepson who served this country as a paratrooper. Since 1940 petitioner has been a laborer at the Van Camp Sea Food Company in San Diego, California. In 1944 petitioner became a member of the Communist Party. Deciding that he no longer wanted to belong to that party, he got out sometime around 1946 or 1947. As pointed out in the Court’s opinion, during the period of his membership the Communist Party functioned ‘as a distinct and active political organization’. See Communist Party of United States of America v. Peek, 20 Cal.2d 536, 127 P.2d 889. Party candidates appeared on California election ballots, and no federal law then frowned on Communist Party political activities. Now in 1954, however, petitioner is to be deported from this country solely because of his past lawful membership in that party. And this is to be done without proof or finding that petitioner knew that the party had any evil purposes or that he agreed with any such purposes that it might have had. On the contrary, there is strong evidence that he was a good, law-abiding man, a steady worker and a devoted husband and father loyal to this country and its form of government.

For joining a lawful political group years ago-an act which he had no possible reason to believe would subject him to the slightest penalty-petitioner now loses his job, his friends, his home, and maybe even his children, who must choose between their father and their native country. Perhaps a legislative act penalizing political activities legal when engaged in is not a bill of attainder. But see United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303, 315-316, 66 S.Ct. 1073, 1078, 1079, 90 L.Ed. 1252. Conceivably an Act prescribing exile for prior innocent conduct does not violate the constitutional prohibition of ex post facto laws. Cf. American Communications Ass’n v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382, 412-415, 70 S.Ct. 674, 690-693, 94 L.Ed. 925. It may be possible that this deportation order for engaging in political activities does not violate the First Amendment’s clear ban against abridgment of political speech and assembly. Maybe it is not even a denial of due process and equal protection of the laws. But see dissenting opinions in Carlson v. Landon, 342 U.S. 524, 72 S.Ct. 525, 96 L.Ed. 547, and Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, 342 U.S. 580, 72 S.Ct. 512, 96 L.Ed. 586. I am unwilling to say, however, that despite these constitutional safeguards this man may be driven from our land because he joined a political party that California and the Nation then recognized as perfectly legal.

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