[Editor's note: footnotes (if any) trail the opinion]

[1] SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

[2] JENKINS

v.

[3] McKEITHEN, GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA, ET AL.

[4] No. 548

BLUE BOOK CITATION FORM: 1969.SCT.96 (http://www.versuslaw.com)

[5] Date Decided: June 9, 1969

[6] SYLLABUS

[7] Appellant, a labor union member, filed this suit in the District Court for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging as violative of due process and equal protection the Louisiana statute that creates a body called the Labor-Management Commission of Inquiry for the purpose of investigating and finding facts relating to violations of state or federal criminal laws in the labor-management relations field. The Commission, appointed by the Governor, is to hold public hearings concerning such alleged violations, and its powers include making rules, employing investigators, compelling the attendance of witnesses, and requiring the production of records. The Commission is required to make public findings whether there is probable cause to believe that criminal violations have occurred, to report such findings of probable cause to law enforcement authorities, and to request the Governor to refer matters to the State Attorney General for prosecutive action. There is no provision for submission of findings for the purpose of legislative action. Witnesses have the right to counsel "subject to . . . reasonable limitations" imposed by the Commission, but the right to cross-examine other witnesses is limited, neither a witness nor a private party having the right to call anyone to testify before the Commission at public hearings. Appellant charged that the Commission is an "executive trial agency" "aimed at conducting public trials concerning criminal law violations"; that its function is publicly to condemn; that the appellees (the Governor and six Commissioners) have singled out appellant and members of his union "as a special class of persons for repressive and willfully punitive action," procuring false statements of criminal activities to initiate baseless criminal proceedings against appellant, coercing public officials into prosecuting false criminal charges against him, and intimidating judges considering legal controversies involving him; and that the Commission and those acting in concert with it will continue to take such actions against appellant. Appellees moved to dismiss, alleging that appellant lacked standing to make his constitutional challenge, since he did not claim that he was called or expected to be called to appear before the Commission or would be "injured" by the operation of the statute, and that the complaint failed to state a cause of action. A three-judge District Court dismissed the complaint, holding that Hannah v. Larche, 363 U.S. 420, foreclosed relief on the constitutional issue, and that the other allegations of the complaint raised merely potential defenses to assertedly pending criminal charges. Held : The judgment is reversed and remanded. Pp. 413-433.

[8] MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE and MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, concluded that:

[9] *fn1. Appellant has standing to challenge the statute's constitutionality. Pp. 421-425.

[10] (a) The allegations of the complaint indicate that the Commission and those acting in concert with it have carried out a series of acts designed to injure appellant in several ways, and it is thus clear that appellant has sufficient adversary interest to insure proper presentation of issues facing the court. Pp. 423-424.

[11] (b) Appellant has sufficiently alleged a nexus between the official action challenged and his legally protected interest, since he has claimed that the very purpose of the Commission is to find him and persons like him guilty of violating criminal laws without trial or procedural safeguards, and to publicize those findings, and thus the Commission's alleged actions will substantially affect him. P. 424.

[12] (c) In the circumstances of this case, where appellant claims a concerted attempt to brand him a criminal without trial and has claimed that he has vainly tried to secure prosecution of charges against him, his opportunity to defend criminal prosecution is not sufficient to deprive him of standing to challenge the statute. Pp. 424-425.

[13] *fn2. Appellant has alleged a cause of action which may make declaratory and injunctive relief appropriate and is entitled to go to trial on his allegations concerning the Commission and that its procedures violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 425-431.

[14] (a) Hannah v. Larche, supra, is reaffirmed. The functions of the Civil Rights Commission, whose procedures were upheld in that case, were primarily investigatory and for legislative and executive purposes, whereas the Commission in this case is limited to criminal law violations, and allegedly exercises a role very much akin to making an official adjudication of criminal culpability, performing functions that are primarily accusatory and have no legislative purpose. Pp. 425-428.

[15] (b) Due process requires that the Commission here, which allegedly makes actual findings of guilt, afford a person being investigated the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against him. Pp. 428-429.

[16] (c) The Commission's alleged procedures drastically limiting the right of a person being investigated to present evidence on his own behalf do not comport with due process. P. 429.

[17] (d) The extent to which the Commission's procedures in these and other respects alleged by appellant may violate the Due Process Clause should be decided in the first instance by the District Court in light of the evidence adduced at trial. Pp. 429-430.

[18] *fn3. Whether appellant's allegations that false criminal charges were filed against him involve actions taken under the statute and should thus be taken into account by the District Court in determining the statute's constitutionality or are merely potential defenses, as the District Court held, to assertedly pending criminal charges should be left open for reconsideration on remand. Pp. 431-432.

[19] MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS concurs in the result for the reasons stated in his dissent in Hannah v. Larche, supra, at 493-508. P. 432.

[20] MR. JUSTICE BLACK adhered to MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS' dissent in Hannah v. Larche, supra, and while concurring in much of the prevailing opinion in this case, concluded that the statute involved here, like the statute involved in Hannah, constitutes a scheme for a nonjudicial tribunal to convict people without any of the safeguards of the Bill of Rights and denies due process of law. Pp. 432-433.

[21] APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA.

[22] APPELLATE PANEL:

[23] Warren, Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall

[24] DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUSTICE MARSHALL

[25] This case involves the constitutionality of a 1967 Louisiana statute, known as Act No. 2, which creates a body called the Labor-Management Commission of Inquiry. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.1-23:880.18 (Supp. 1969). The stated purpose of this Commission is "the investigation and findings of facts relating to violations or possible violations of criminal laws of the state of Louisiana or of the United States arising out of or in connection with matters in the field of labor-management relations . . . ." Act No. 2, Preamble, [1967 Extra. Sess.] La. Acts 3. Appellant, a member of a labor union, filed this suit in the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana challenging the constitutionality of Act No. 2 and of certain actions taken by state officials in the administration of the Act and otherwise. He sought both declaratory and injunctive relief. A three-judge court was convened and that court ultimately granted appellees' motion to dismiss the complaint. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 286 F.Supp. 537 (D.C. E. D. La. 1968). We noted probable jurisdiction of an appeal brought under 28 U. S. C. 1253.1 We reverse.

[26] Since the case was decided on a motion to dismiss, a rather detailed examination of the structure of the Act and of the allegations of the complaint is necessary.

I.

[27] The impetus for the formation of the Commission was stated in the preamble of the Act. [1967 Extra. Sess.] La. Acts 2. It cited "unprecedented conditions" in the labor relations of the construction industry, and it particularly noted certain "allegations and accusations of violations of the state and federal criminal laws which should be thoroughly investigated in the public interest . . . ." Id., at 3. The additional investigative facilities of the Commission were thought necessary to "supplement and assist the efforts and activities of the several district attorneys, grand juries and other law enforcement officials and agencies . . . ." Ibid.

[28] The Commission is composed of nine members appointed by the Governor. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.1 (Supp. 1969). It is empowered to act only upon referral by the Governor when, in his opinion, there is substantial indication that there are or may be "widespread or continuing violations of existing criminal laws" affecting labor-management relations. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.5 (Supp. 1969). Upon referral by the Governor, the Commission is to proceed by public hearing to ascertain the facts pertaining to the alleged violations. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.6 (Supp. 1969). In order to carry out this function, the Commission has the power to make appropriate rules and regulations, to employ attorneys, investigators, and other staff members, to compel the attendance of witnesses, to examine them under oath, and to require the production of books, records, and other evidence. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.8 (Supp. 1969). It can enforce its orders by petition to the state courts for contempt proceedings. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.9 (Supp. 1969).

[29] The scope of the Commission's investigative authority is explicitly limited by the Act to violations of criminal laws. "The commission shall have no power, authority or jurisdiction to investigate, hold hearings or seek to ascertain the facts or make any reports or recommendations on any of the strictly civil aspects of any labor problem . . . ." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.6 B (Supp. 1969).2 Further, the Commission has no power to participate in any manner in any civil proceeding, except, of course, contempt proceedings. Ibid. The limitation of the Commission to criminal matters is further reinforced by the provision of the Act allowing the Commission, at the request of the Governor, to assign its investigatory forces to the state police to assist the latter in their investigatory activities. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.6 C (Supp. 1969).

[30] The Commission is required to determine, in public findings, whether there is probable cause to believe violations of the criminal laws have occurred. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.7 A (Supp. 1969). Its power is limited to making these findings and recommendations:

[31] "The commission shall have no authority to and it shall make no binding adjudication with respect to such violation or violations; however, it may, in its discretion, include in its findings the conclusions of the commission as to specific individuals . . . and it may make such recommendations for action to the governor as it deems appropriate." Ibid.

[32] The findings are to be a matter of public record, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.15 B (Supp. 1969), although they may not be used as prima facie or presumptive evidence of guilt or innocence in any court of law, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.7 A (Supp. 1969). The Commission is required to report its findings to the proper state or federal authorities if it finds there is probable cause to believe that violations of the criminal laws have occurred, and it may file appropriate charges. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.7 B (Supp. 1969). Finally, the Commission may request the Governor to refer matters to the State Attorney General asking the latter to exercise his authority to cause criminal prosecutions to be instituted. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.7 D (Supp. 1969). Nothing in the Act makes any provision for preparation of findings or reports for submission to the Governor or the legislature for the explicit purpose of legislative action. Indeed, the preamble of the Act and the Act itself make it clear that the purpose of the Commission is to supplement the activities of the State's law enforcement agencies in one narrowly defined area.

[33] As indicated above, the Commission has the power to compel the attendance of witnesses. A witness is given notice of the general subject matter of the investigation before being asked to appear and testify. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.10 A (Supp. 1969). A witness has the right to the presence and advice of counsel, "subject to such reasonable limitations as the commission may impose in order to prevent obstruction of or interference with the orderly conduct of the hearing." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.10 B (Supp. 1969). Counsel may question his client as to any relevant matters, ibid., but the right of a witness or his counsel to examine other witnesses is limited:

[34] "In no event shall counsel for any witness have any right to examine or cross-examine any other witness but he may submit to the commission proposed questions to be asked of any other witness appearing before the commission, and the commission shall ask the witness such of the questions as it deems to be appropriate to its inquiry." Ibid.

[35] With one limited exception to be discussed below, neither a witness nor any other private party has the right to call anyone to testify before the Commission.

[36] Although the Commission must base its findings and reports only on evidence and testimony given at public hearings, the Act does provide for executive session when it appears that the testimony to be given "may tend to degrade, defame or incriminate any person." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.12 A (Supp. 1969). In executive session the Commission must allow the person who might be degraded, defamed, or incriminated an opportunity to appear and be heard, and to call a reasonable number of witnesses on his behalf. Ibid. However, the Commission may decide that the evidence or testimony shall be heard in a public hearing, regardless of its effect on any particular person. Ibid. In that case, the person affected has the right to appear as a "voluntary witness" and may submit "pertinent" statements of others. Ibid. He may submit a list of additional witnesses, but subpoenas will be issued only in the discretion of the Commission. Ibid.; see also La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 23:880.12 C (Supp. 1969).

II.

[37] Appellant's complaint named as defendants the Governor of Louisiana and six members of the Commission. The complaint presented, inter alia, the question of whether the provisions of Act No. 2 violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Appellant alleged that the Commission was an executive trial agency "aimed at conducting public trials concerning criminal law violations," and that its function was publicly to condemn. Appellant asserted that the defendants

[38] "in connection with the administration of the provisions of said Act, have singled out complainant and members of Teamsters Local No. 5 as a special class of persons for repressive and willfully punitive action . . . in furtherance of which a deliberate effort has been made and continues to be made by said officials . . . to destroy the current power structure of the labor union aforesaid . . . ."

[39] More specifically, the complaint alleged that appellees and their agents, acting under color of law and in conspiracy, procured false statements of criminal activities and used such statements to initiate baseless criminal proceedings against appellant, that they intimidated and coerced public officials into filing and prosecuting false criminal charges against appellant, and that they knowingly, willfully, and purposefully intimidated state court judges having under consideration legal controversies involving appellant. These acts of appellees allegedly deprived appellant and all others similarly situated of "rights, privileges and immunities secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Finally, appellant alleged that the appellees intended to continue to deprive him and others of their rights and that there was no "plain, adequate or efficient remedy at law."

[40] Appellant prayed that a three-judge district court be convened, that a temporary restraining order issue, that Act No. 2 be declared unconstitutional, that all civil and criminal actions against appellant be permanently restrained, and that other unspecified relief be granted.

[41] Temporary relief was denied by the District Court and a three-judge court was impanelled to hear the case. Appellees answered and moved to dismiss. They alleged that appellant lacked standing to question the constitutionality of Act No. 2 and that the complaint failed to state a cause of action. Thereafter, appellant filed a "Supplemental and Amending Petition" in which he alleged, in some detail, that appellees had continued the course of action described in the original complaint. After a hearing, the court dismissed the complaint. Jenkins v. McKeithen, supra.

[42] The court, relying largely on the opinion of the Louisiana Supreme Court in Martone v. Morgan, 251 La. 993, 207 So. 2d 770, appeal dismissed, 393 U.S. 12 (1968) (petition for rehearing pending), held that this Court's decision in Hannah v. Larche, 363 U.S. 420 (1960), was dispositive of the issue of the constitutionality of the Act. The court further ruled that appellant had not stated any other claim for relief under 1981, 1983, and 1988 of Title 42, United States Code. Rather, the court held that the other matters sought to be raised in the complaint were merely potential defenses to the pending criminal charges and that appellant had not alleged any basis for restraining prosecution of those charges. Finally, the court ruled that appellant's suit was not a proper class action under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.3 The court did not explicitly rule on the issue of whether appellant lacked standing to challenge the Act.

[43] Appellant presents two questions for review in this Court: Whether Act No. 2 is constitutional and whether the complaint otherwise states a cause of action under 42 U. S. C. 1981, 1983, and 1988.

III.

[44] We are met at the outset with appellees' assertion that appellant lacks standing to attack the constitutionality of Act No. 2. This argument is based in part upon certain allegations in the complaint that Act No. 2 is unconstitutional because it denies to "a person compelled to appear before . . . [the] Commission" the right to effective assistance of counsel, the right of confrontation, and the right to compulsory process for the attendance of witnesses. Since appellant did not allege in his complaint that he was called to appear before the Commission or that he expected to be called, appellees assert that he lacks standing to assert the denial of rights to those who do appear. See, e. g., Tileston v. Ullman, 318 U.S. 44 (1943). Further, appellees argue that appellant lacks standing because he cannot demonstrate that he has been, or will be, "injured" by the operation of the challenged statute. We cannot agree.

[45] The present case was decided on appellees' motion to dismiss, in which appellees contested appellant's standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Act. As noted above, the court below made no explicit reference to the issue of standing. But since the question of standing goes to this Court's jurisdiction, see Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 94-101 (1968), we must decide the issue even though the court below passed over it without comment. Cf. Tileston v. Ullman, supra.

[46] For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the material allegations of the complaint are taken as admitted. See, e. g., Walker Process Equipment, Inc. v. Food Machinery & Chemical Corp., 382 U.S. 172, 174-175 (1965). And, the complaint is to be liberally construed in favor of plaintiff. See Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8 (f); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957). The complaint should not be dismissed unless it appears that appellant could "prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, supra, at 45-46. With these rules in mind, we turn to an examination of the allegations of appellant's complaint.

[47] It is true, as appellees assert, that appellant alleges deprivations of rights of those who are or will be called to testify before the Commission and that he fails to allege that he was or will be called to testify. If this were the extent of appellant's allegations, we would agree that appellant lacks standing to challenge the Act. However, appellant's allegations are not limited to those mentioned by appellees. Appellant alleged that the Commission was an "executive trial agency" whose function was to conduct public trials designed to find appellant and others guilty of violations of criminal laws, allegedly for the purpose of injuring him and destroying the labor union of which he was a member. More specifically, appellant alleged that

[48] "said Commission of Inquiry exercises (a) an accusatory function, (b) its duty to find that named individuals are responsible for criminal law violations, (c) it must advertise such findings, and (d) its findings serve as part of the process of criminal prosecution . . . ."

[49] Finally, the complaint alleged that the appellees, acting in concert with others and in connection with the administration of the Act, have actually engaged in a course of conduct designed publicly to brand appellant and others as criminals, including, as noted above, the filing of allegedly baseless criminal charges against appellant.

[50] Thus, although the complaint is inartfully drawn, it does allege that the Commission and those acting in concert with it have taken and will take in the future certain actions with respect to appellant. The issue is thus whether those allegations are sufficient to give appellant standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Act creating the Commission and the actions taken by the Commission under authority of that Act. We think that they are.

[51] The concept of standing to sue, as we noted in Flast v. Cohen, supra, "is surrounded by the same complexities and vagaries that inhere in [the concept of] justiciability" in general. 392 U.S., at 98. Nevertheless, the outlines of the concept can be stated with some certainty. The indispensable requirement is, of course, that the party seeking relief allege "such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions . . . ." Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204 (1962); see Flast v. Cohen, supra; Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 151 (1951) (concurring opinion). In this sense, the concept of standing focuses on the party seeking relief, rather than on the precise nature of the relief sought. See Flast v. Cohen, supra, at 99-100. The decisions of this Court have also made it clear that something more than an "adversary interest" is necessary to confer standing. There must in addition be some connection between the official action challenged and some legally protected interest of the party challenging that action. See Flast v. Cohen, supra, at 101-106.

[52] In the present case, it is clear that appellant possesses sufficient adversary interest to insure proper presentation of issues facing the court. His allegations, if taken as true, indicate that the Commission and those acting in concert with it have carried out a series of public acts designed to injure him in various ways. Appellant's interest in his own reputation and in his economic well-being guarantee that the present proceeding will be an adversary one.

[53] We also think that appellant has alleged that the Act's administration was the direct cause of sufficient injury to his own legally protected interests to accord him standing to challenge the validity of the Act. We are not presented with a case in which any injury to appellant is merely a collateral consequence of the actions of an investigative body. See Hannah v. Larche, supra, at 443; cf. Sinclair v. United States, 279 U.S. 263, 295 (1929); McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135, 179-180 (1927). Rather, it is alleged that the very purpose of the Commission is to find persons guilty of violating criminal laws without trial or procedural safeguards, and to publicize those findings. Moreover, we think that the personal and economic consequences alleged to flow from such actions are sufficient to meet the requirement that appellant prove a legally redressable injury. Those consequences would certainly be actionable if caused by a private party and thus should be sufficient to accord appellant standing. See Greene v. McElroy, 360 U.S. 474, 493, n. 22 (1959); Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, supra, at 140-141 (opinion of Burton, J.); id., at 151-160 (Frankfurter, J., concurring). It is no answer that the Commission has not itself tried to impose any direct sanctions on appellant; it is enough that the Commission's alleged actions will have a substantial impact on him. See, e. g., Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. United States, 316 U.S. 407 (1942); cf. NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, 460-463 (1958). Finally, in the circumstances of the present case, we do not regard appellant's opportunity to defend any criminal prosecutions as sufficient to deprive him of standing to challenge the Act. Cf. United States v. Los Angeles & S. L. R. Co., 273 U.S. 299 (1927). Appellant's allegations go beyond the normal publicity attending criminal prosecution; he alleges a concerted attempt publicly to brand him a criminal without a trial. Further, he alleges that he has been unsuccessful in his attempts to secure prosecution of the charges against him.

[54] We hold that appellant's complaint contains sufficient allegations of direct and substantial injury to his own legally protected interests to accord him standing to challenge the constitutionality of Act No. 2.

IV.

[55] We thus reach the merits of appellant's contention that Act No. 2 is unconstitutional. Appellant's complaint is long and inartfully drawn; it contains many allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the Commission and other state officials. But the only issue presented by this aspect of the case is whether the Act creating the Commission is constitutional, either on its face or as applied. Many of appellant's allegations are relevant to this latter contention, but many involve issues that the court below ruled were properly matters to be raised in defense of any criminal prosecutions which might take place. We will deal with those allegations in the final section of this opinion.

[56] Appellees, like the court below, rely heavily on this Court's decision in Hannah v. Larche, supra. In Hannah, this Court upheld the Civil Rights Commission against challenges similar to those involved in the present case. Indeed, Act No. 2 was drafted with Hannah in mind and the structure and powers of the Commission here are similar to those of the Civil Rights Commission. See Jenkins v. McKeithen, 286 F.Supp., at 540; Martone v. Morgan, supra. We cannot agree, however, that Hannah controls the present case, for we think that there are crucial differences between the issues presented by this complaint and the issues in Hannah.

[57] The appellants in Hannah were persons subpoenaed to appear before the Civil Rights Commission in connection with complaints about deprivations of voting rights. They objected to the Civil Rights Commission's rules about nondisclosure of the complainants and about limitations on the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses. This Court ruled that the Commission's rules were consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Court noted that

[58] "'due process' is an elusive concept. Its exact boundaries are undefinable, and its content varies according to specific factual contexts. . . . Whether the Constitution requires that a particular right obtain in a specific proceeding depends upon a complexity of factors. The nature of the alleged right involved, the nature of the proceeding, and the possible burden on that proceeding, are all considerations which must be taken into account." 363 U.S., at 442.

[59] In rejecting appellants' challenge to the Civil Rights Commission's procedures, the Court placed great emphasis on the investigatory function of the Commission:

[60] "Its function is purely investigative and factfinding. It does not adjudicate. It does not hold trials or determine anyone's civil or criminal liability. It does not issue orders. Nor does it indict, punish, or impose any legal sanctions. It does not make determinations depriving anyone of his life, liberty, or property. In short, the Commission does not and cannot take any affirmative action which will