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Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Committee

United States Supreme Court
372 U.S. 539 (1963)


Facts

In 1957, a legislative committee sought the entire membership list of a local Florida National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) branch because it believed the branch was involved in Communist activity. This request was denied by the Florida Supreme Court. However, the court permitted the committee to require NAACP officials to bring membership lists to committee hearings for the purpose of determining whether specific individuals suspected of being Communists were actually NAACP members. In 1959, the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee (plaintiff) was established to resume the 1957 investigation. Gibson (defendant), president of the NAACP’s Miami branch, was ordered to bring his branch’s membership list to a committee hearing. Gibson refused on the ground that the request violated the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of association. Based on Gibson’s refusal, a Florida state court found him in contempt and sentenced him to six months in prison and a $1,200 fine. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Goldberg, J.)

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Dissent (Harlan, J.)

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