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COMMUNIST PARTY v. CATHERWOOD

decided: June 12, 1961.

COMMUNIST PARTY, U. S. A., ET AL
v.
CATHERWOOD, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSIONER



CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK.

Warren, Black, Frankfurter, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Whittaker, Stewart

Author: Harlan

[ 367 U.S. Page 389]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

We here review the upholding by the New York Court of Appeals of the action of the New York State Industrial

[ 367 U.S. Page 390]

     Commissioner terminating petitioners' registration and liability to state taxation as employers under the New York State Unemployment Insurance Law. N. Y. Labor Law, §§ 511-512, 517-518, 570, 577, 581. This determination was effected under what was conceived to be the compulsion of a federal statute, the Communist Control Act of 1954, 68 Stat. 775, 50 U. S. C. §§ 841-844, which provides, in pertinent part:

"Section 2. The Congress hereby finds and declares that the Communist Party of the United States, although purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States . . . . Therefore the Communist Party should be outlawed.

"Section 3. The Communist Party of the United States, or any successors of such party regardless of the assumed name, whose object or purpose is to overthrow the Government of the United States, or the government of any State, Territory, District, or possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein by force and violence, are not entitled to any of the rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies created under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States or any political subdivision thereof; and whatever rights, privileges, and immunities which have heretofore been granted to said party or any subsidiary organization by reason of the laws of the United States or any political subdivision thereof, are hereby terminated : Provided, however, That nothing in this section shall be construed as amending the Internal Security Act of 1950, as amended." (Emphasis supplied.)

New York has an "experience rating" scheme whereby employers with consistent records of high employment

[ 367 U.S. Page 391]

     levels are taxed at a lower rate than would otherwise obtain. Under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, 26 U. S. C. §§ 3301-3308, an employer is entitled to a federal tax credit for the amount paid in state unemployment taxes. If the state taxing structure allows for a reduction in tax rate to employers with good employment records under a federally certified "experience rating" system, the federal tax is nevertheless reduced by the highest rate imposed by the State, so that the employer retains the full benefit of his experience rating reduction. Thus, before the termination of their New York registration the combined federal and state tax rate of the petitioner, Communist Party, U. S. A., was 1%, and that of the petitioner, Communist Party of New York State, was, according to its representations, 1.1%. The effect of the registration termination as to both was to increase the rate to 3%, the rate provided in the federal statute.*fn1

We granted certiorari, 364 U.S. 918, to consider the petitioners' claims that New York has mistakenly construed the Communist Control Act of 1954 to require termination of their status as employers under the New York statute, and, contrariwise, that both § 3 of the Communist Control Act, so construed, and New York's termination of registration infringed the Constitution of the United States.*fn2

We must reject at the outset respondent's contention that the Court of Appeals' decision rested on a determination, based on judicial notice which was not displaced by any proof, ...


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