ln response to a subpoena, petitioner appeared as a witness before a United States district court grand jury. Several questions concerning· her knowledge and association with the Communist Party were put to her. In each case, she refused to answer the questions, claiming the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. For refusal to answer these same questions when brought before the district court, petitioner was adjudged to be in contempt of court. The court of appeals affirmed the holdings, and certiorari was granted by the Supreme Court. Held, judgment reversed. The Smith Act makes it unlawful to advocate knowingly the desirability of the overthrow of the government by force or violence, to organize or help to organize any society which teaches, advocates, or encourages such overthrow of the government, or to be or become a member of such a group with knowledge of its purposes. In view of that act, answers to the questions propounded might have furnished a link in the chain of evidence needed in a prosecution of the petitioner for violation of, or conspiracy to violate, said act. Under these circumstances, the Constitution gave the petitioner the privilege of remaining silent. Blau v. United States,/em>, 340 U.S.· 159, 71 S.Ct. 223 (1950).
Morris G. Shanker,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-FIFTH AMENDMENT-PRIVILEGE AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION BY ADMISSION, OR KNOWLEDGE, OF COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol49/iss8/14