Wilkinson v. United States

Wilkinson v. United States

Argued November 17, 1960
Decided February 27, 1961
Full case name Frank Wilkinson v. United States

365 U.S. 399 (more)

Court membership
Case opinions
Dissent Black, joined by Warren & Douglas
Dissent Douglas, joined by Warren & Black
Dissent Brennan, joined by Douglas
Laws applied
2 U.S.C. § 192
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Wilkinson v. United States, 365 U.S. 399 (1961), was a court case during the McCarthy Era in which the petitioner, Frank Wilkinson, an administrator with the Los Angeles Public Housing Authority, challenged his conviction under 2 U.S.C. § 192, which makes it a misdemeanor to refuse to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry for any person summoned as a witness by Congress. The petitioner's conviction was sustained in a 5-4 ruling, upholding a prior ruling in Barenblatt v. United States.

The petitioner was indeed summoned to testify, which he did not pertain to, before a Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee, which was investigating alleged Communist infiltration into basic industries and Communist Party propaganda activities. The petitioner refused to answer a question as to whether he was a member of the Communist Party, contending that the Subcommittee lacked legal authority to interrogate him and that its questioning violated his First Amendment rights. He was convicted of a misdemeanor violation of 2 U.S.C. § 192. The Court also, on February 27, 1961, denied Braden v. United States, a companion case appealing a similar 2 U.S.C. § 192 conviction.

The underlying activities of the FBI and government agencies later resulted in a case, Wilkinson v. FBI, 633 F. Supp. 336 (C.D. Cal. 1986), in which it was revealed that the FBI believed the witness that provided the assertion of Wilkinson's association with the Communist Party was "unreliable and emotionally unstable."[1]


  1. Books.Google.com

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