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United States v. Auto Workers, 352 U.S. 567 (1957)

United States v. Auto Workers

No. 44

Argued December 3-4, 1956

Decided March 11, 1957

352 U.S. 567


18 U.S.C. § 610 prohibits any corporation or labor organization from making "a contribution or expenditure in connection with" any election for federal office. An indictment of appellee, a labor organization, under this section charged appellee with having used union dues to sponsor commercial television broadcasts designed to influence the electorate to select certain candidates for Congress in connection with the 1954 elections. The District Court dismissed the indictment as not alleging a statutory offense. On appeal to this Court under the Criminal Appeals Act, held: the judgment of dismissal is reversed. Pp. 352 U. S. 568-593.

(a) On review under the Criminal Appeals Act of a district court judgment dismissing an indictment on the basis of statutory interpretation, this Court must take the indictment as it was construed by the district judge. P. 352 U. S. 584.

(b) It was to embrace precisely the kind of indirect contributions alleged in the indictment that Congress amended the section to proscribe "expenditures." P. 352 U. S. 585.

(c) The Senate and House committee reports and the Senate debate support the conclusion that the section was understood to proscribe the expenditure of union dues to pay for commercial broadcasts that are designed to urge the public to elect a certain candidate or party. Pp. 352 U. S. 585-587.

(d) United State v. CIO, 335 U. S. 106, distinguished. Pp. 352 U. S. 588-589.

(e) In the circumstances of this case, the Court does not pass upon the constitutional issues. Pp. 352 U. S. 589-593.

138 F.Supp. 53 reversed and remanded.

Page 352 U. S. 568

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