Beilan v. Board of Public Education, School District of Philadelphia/Dissent Warren

Court Documents
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. Chief Justice WARREN, dissenting.

I believe the facts of record in No. 63 compel the conclusion that Beilan's plea of the Fifth Amendment before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Un-American Activities was so inextricably involved in the Board's decision to discharge him that the validity of the Board's action cannot be sustained without consideration of this ground. The clearest indication of this is the fact that for 13 months following petitioner's refusal to answer the Superintendent's questions, he was retained as a school teacher and continually rated 'satisfactory,' yet five days after his appearance before the House subcommittee petitioner was suspended. Since a plea of the Fifth Amendment before a congressional committee is an invalid basis for discharge from public employment, Slochower v. Board of Higher Education, 350 U.S. 551, 76 S.Ct. 637, 100 L.Ed. 692, I would reverse the judgment approving petitioner's dismissal.

I cannot agree that the invalidity of the Board's action is cured by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's conclusion that the dismissal was 'justified' if any charge against petitioner was sustained. Whether the first refusal alone would 'justify' the discharge we need not decide. This Court has previously held that where a conclusion of guilt may rest on a constitutionally impermissible basis, the adjudication must be set aside, notwithstanding a state court's conclusion that permissible bases existed on which the decision might have rested. Stromberg v. People of State of California, 283 U.S. 359, 368, 51 S.Ct. 532, 535, 75 L.Ed. 1117; see also Williams v. State of North Carolina, 317 U.S. 287, 292, 63 S.Ct. 207, 210, 87 L.Ed. 279. There may be exceptions to the application of this principle to the full range of state administrative action. Nevertheless, on the particular facts of this case, the invalid basis of the State's action is too critical to be ignored.

For these reasons Mr. Justice BLACK, Mr. Justice DOUGLAS and I dissent in No. 63. I also dissent in No. 165 for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice BRENNAN.


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).