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United Public Workers v. Mitchell

United States Supreme Court
330 U.S. 75 (1947)


Facts

The Hatch Act made it unlawful for federal executive-branch officers and employees to take "any active part in political management or political campaigns." The penalty for a violation of this provision of the Hatch Act was dismissal from employment. George Poole and other federal employees, including members of the federal executive civil service and the United Public Workers of America labor union (plaintiffs), brought an action in federal district court against members of the United States Civil Service Commission (defendants). The plaintiffs sought equitable relief including a declaratory judgment that the Hatch Act's prohibition on active involvement in political management or campaigns was unconstitutional. Of the plaintiffs, only Poole had violated the Hatch Act at the time of the action. Poole was a local committeeman in a political party and worked at the polls on Election Day; there was a proposed order for Poole's removal from his position at the U.S. Mint based on his Hatch Act violation. None of the other plaintiffs had violated the Hatch Act at the time of the action, but they claimed that they wished to do so by, for example, serving as local party officials or writing articles in support of political candidates. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiffs' action for lack of a justiciable case or controversy, but a three-judge panel of the district court found that the plaintiffs' interest in engaging in political activities was sufficient to allow them to maintain the action. However, the panel found that the challenged portion of the Hatch Act was constitutional and dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint. The plaintiffs appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Reed, J.)

Dissent (Black, J.)

Dissent (Douglas, J.)

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