Beilan v. Board of Public Education, School District of Philadelphia/Concurrence Frankfurter

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Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Concurring Opinion
Dissenting Opinions

United States Supreme Court

357 U.S. 399

Beilan  v.  Board of Public Education, School District of Philadelphia

 Argued: March 4, 1958. --- Decided: June 30, 1958

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER, concurring.

Although I join the opinion of the Court in both these cases, a word of emphasis is appropriate against finding that New York and Pennsylvania-for the highest courts of those States are for our purposes the States-have violated the United States Constitution by attributing to them determinations that they have not made and have carefully avoided making. Such a finding would rest, as I understand it, on the theory that although the States, with a due sense of responsibility, have not made these determinations, they may be attributed to them because persons who do not make distinctions that are important in law and the conduct of government may loosely infer them.

The services of two public employees have been terminated because of their refusals to answer questions relevant, or not obviously irrelevant, to an inquiry by their supervisors into their dependability. When these two employees were discharged, they were not labeled 'disloyal.' They were discharged because governmental authorities, like other employers, sought to satisfy themselves of the dependability of employees in relation to their duties. Accordingly, they made inquiries that, it is not contradicted, could in and of themselves be made. These inquiries were balked. The services of the employees were therefore terminated.

Because the specific questions put to these employees were part of a general inquiry relating to what is compendiously called subversion and to conduct that on due proof may amount to disloyalty, every part of the process of inquiry is given the attribute of an inquiry into disloyalty and every resulting severance from service is deemed a finding of disloyalty. The argument runs, in essence, that because such an inquiry may in certain instances lead to a determination of disloyalty, the refusal to answer any questions in this process and dismissal therefor themselves establish disloyalty. To make such an attribution to a State, to draw such an inference from a carefully limited exercise of state power, to disallow state action because there are those who may draw inferences that the State itself has not drawn and has avoided drawing, is a curbing of the States through the Fourteenth Amendment that makes of that Amendment an instrument of general censorship by this Court of state action. In refusing to put the Fourteenth Amendment to such a use, I am of course wholly unconcerned with what I may think of the wisdom or folly of the state authorities. I am not charged with administering the transportation system of New York or the school system of Pennsylvania. The Fourteenth Amendment does not check foolishness or unwisdom in such administration. The good sense and right standards of public administration in those States must be relied upon for that, and ultimately the electorate.

Mr. Chief Justice WARREN, dissenting.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).