Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm

372 U.S. 539
Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm
Argued: October 10-11, 1962
Decided: March 25, 1963


Robert L. Carter, New York City, for petitioner.
Mark R. Hawes, St. Petersburg, Fla., for respondent.
Mr. Justice GOLDBERG, delivered the opinion of the Court.

Concurring Opinion

Mr. Justice BLACK, concurring.

I concur in the Court’s opinion and judgment reversing the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida although, for substantially the same reasons stated by Mr. Justice DOUGLAS in his concurring opinion, I would prefer to reach our decision by a different approach. I agree with Mr. Justice DOUGLAS that the Fourteenth Amendment makes the First Amendment applicable to the States and protects the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition from state abridgment with the same force and to the same degree that the First Amendment protects them from federal abridgment. That, as the cases cited by Mr. Justice DOUGLAS show, is what this Court has previously held. I agree also that these Amendments encompass freedom of the people to associate in an infinite number of organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, of which petitioner here was president at the time it was under investigation by the Florida committee. In my view the constitutional right of association includes the privilege of any person to associate with Communists or anti-Communists, Socialists or anti-Socialists, or, for that matter, with people of all kinds of beliefs, popular or unpopular. I have expressed these views in many other cases and I adhere to them now. [*] Since, as I believe, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and its members have a constitutional right to choose their own associates, I cannot understand by what constitutional authority Florida can compel answers to questions which abridge that right. Accordingly, I would reverse here on the ground that there has been a direct abridgment of the right of association of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and its members. But, since the Court assumes for purposes of this case that there was no direct abridgment of First Amendment freedoms, I concur in the Court’s opinion, which is based on constitutional principles laid down in Schneider v. Irvington, 308 U.S. 147, 161, 60 S.Ct. 146, 150, 84 L.Ed. 155 (1939), and later cases of this Court following Schneider.

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