[327 U.S. 186, 189] Mr.Elisha Hanson, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners.
Mr. Irving J. Levy, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.
Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE delivered the opinion of the Court.
These cases bring for decision important questions concerning the Administrator's right to judicial enforcement of subpoenas duces tecum issued by him in the course of investigations conducted pursuant to 11(a) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U.S.C.A. 211(a). His claim is founded directly upon 9, 29 U.S.C.A. 209, which incorporates the enforcement provisions of 9 and 10 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 717, 15 U.S.C.A. 49, 50.1 The subpoenas sought the production of specified records to determine whether petitioners were violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, including records relating to coverage. Petitioners, newspaper publishing corporations, maintain that the Act is not applicable to them, for constitutional and other reasons, and insist that the question of coverage must be adjudicated before the subpoenas may be enforced. [327 U.S. 186, 190] In No. 61, involving the Oklahoma Press Publishing Company, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has rejected this view, holding that the Administrator was entitled to enforcement upon showing of 'probable cause,' which it found had been made. 147 F.2d 658. Accordingly it affirmed the District Court's order directing that the Administrator be given access to the records and documents specified. 2
In No. 63, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit likewise rejected the company's position, one judge dissenting on the ground that probable cause had not been shown. 148 F.2d 57. It accordingly reversed the District Court's order of dismissal in the proceeding to show cause, which in effect denied enforcement for want of a showing of coverage. Application of Walling, 49 F.Supp. 659.3 The [327 U.S. 186, 191] Court of Appeals thought that requiring the Administrator 'to make proof of coverage would be to turn the proceeding into a suit to decide a question which must be determined by the Administrator in the course of his investigation' (148 F.2d 60), and relied upon Endicott Johnson Corp. v. Perkins, 317 U.S. 501 , 63 S.Ct. 339, as being persuasive that this could not be done. Regarding the subpoena as containing no unreasonable demand, it conceived the return and affidavits filed by the company, together with the Administrator's allegations of coverage,4 as a showing sufficient to require enforcement. Hence it directed that the District Court's discretion be exercised with that effect.
Because of the importance of the issues for administration of the Act and also on account of the differences in the grounds for the two decisions, as well as between them [327 U.S. 186, 192] and decisions from other circuits,5 certiorari was granted in both cases. 325 U.S. 845 , 65 S.Ct. 1200, 1201
The issues have taken wide range. They are substantially the same in the two causes, except in one respect to be noted. 6 In addition to an argument from Congress' intent, reliance falls upon various constitutional provisions, including the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, as well as the limited reach of the commerce clause, to show that the Administrator's conduct and the relief he seeks are forbidden.
Coloring almost all of petitioners' position, as we understand them, is a primary misconception that the First Amendment knocks out any possible application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to the business of publishing and distributing newspapers. The argument has two prongs.
The broadside assertion that petitioners 'could not be covered by the Act,' for the reason that 'application of this Act to its newspaper publishing business would violate its rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment,' is [327 U.S. 186, 193] without merit. Associated Press v. National Labor Relations Board, 301 U.S. 103 , 57 S.Ct. 650, and Associated Press v. United States, 326, U.S. 1, 65 S.Ct. 1416; Mabee v. White Plains Pub. Co., 327 U.S. 178 , 66 S.Ct. 511.7 If Congress can remove obstructions to commerce by requiring publishers to bargain collectively with employees and refrain from interfering with their rights of self-organization, matters closely related to eliminating low wages and long hours, Congress likewise may strike directly at those evils when they adversely affect commerce. United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 116 , 117 S., 657, 61 S.Ct. 451, 458, 132 A.L.R. 1430. The Amendment does not forbid this or other regulation which ends in no restraint upon expression or in any other evil outlawed by its terms and purposes. 8
Petitioners' narrower argument, of allegedly invalid classification,9 arises from the statutory exemptions and may be shortly dismissed. The intimation that the Act falls by reason of the exclusion of seamen, farm workers and others by 13(a) is hardly more than a suggestion and is dismissed accordingly. Cf. Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200, 208 , 47 S.Ct. 584, 585. The contention drawn from the exemption of employees of small newspa ers by 13(a)(8) deserves only slightly more attention. 10 It seems to be two-fold, [327 U.S. 186, 194] that the amendment forbids Congress to 'regulate the press by classifying it' at all and in any event that it cannot use volume of circulation or size as a factor in the classification. 11
Reliance upon Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233 , 56 S.Ct. 444, to support these claims is misplaced. There the state statute singled out newspapers for special taxation and was held in effect to graduate the tax in accordance with volume of circulation. Here there was no singling out of the press for treatment different from that accorded other business in general. Rather the Act's purpose was to place publishers of newspapers upon the same plane with other businesses and the exemption for small newspapers had the same object. 83 Cong.Rec. 7445. Nothing in the Grosjean case forbids Congress to exempt some publishers because of size from either a tax or a regulation which would be valid if applied to all.
What has been said also disposes of the contention drawn from the scope of the commerce power and its applicability to the publishing business considered independently of the Amendment's influence. Associated Press v. National Labor Relations Board, supra; Associated Press v. United States, supra.
Other questions pertain to whether enforcement of the subpoenas as directed by the Circuit Courts of Appeals will violate any of petitioners' rights secured by the Fourth [327 U.S. 186, 195] Amendment and related issues concerning Congress' intent. It is claimed that enforcement would permit the Administrator to conduct general fishing expeditions into petitioners' books, records and papers, in order to secure evidence that they have violated the Act, without a prior charge or complaint and simply to secure information upon which to base one, all allegedly in violation of the Amendment's search and seizure provisions. Supporting this is an argument that Congress did not intend such use to be made of the delegated power, which rests in part upon asserted constitutional implications, but primarily upon the reports of legislative committees, particularly in the House of Representatives, made in passing upon appropriations for years subsequent to the Act's effective date. 12
The short answer to the Fourth Amendment objections is that the records in these cases present no question of actual search and seizure, but raise only the question whether orders of court for the production of specified records have been validly made; and no sufficient showing appears to justify setting them aside. 13 No officer or other person has sought to enter petitioners' premises against their will, to search them, or to seize or examine their books, records or papers without their assent, otherwise than pursuant to orders of court authorized by law and made after adequate opportunity to present objections, which in fact were made. 14 Nor has any objection been taken to the breadth of the subpoenas or to any other specific defect which would invalidate them. 15 [327 U.S. 186, 196] What petitioners seek is not to prevent an unlawful search and seizure. It is rather a total immunity to the Act's provisions, applicable to all others similarly situated, requiring them to submit their pertinent records for the Administrator's inspection under every judicial safeguard, after and only after an order of court made pursuant to and in exact compliance with authority granted by Congress. This broad claim of immunity no doubt is induced by petitioners' First Amendment contentions. But beyond them it is rested also upon conceptions of the Fourth Amendment equally lacking in merit.
Petitioners' plea that the Fourth Amendment places them so far above the law that they are beyond the reach of congressional and judicial power as those powers have been exerted here only raises the ghost of controversy long since settled adversely to their claim. 16 They have advanced no claim founded on the Fifth Amendment's somewhat related guaranty against self-incrimination, whether or not for the sufficient reason among others that this privilege gives no protection to corporations or their officers against the production of corporate records pursuant to lawful judicial order, which is all these cases involve. 17
The cited authorities would be sufficient to dispose of the Fourth Amendment argument, and more recent decisions confirm their ruling. 18 Petitioners however are insistent in their contrary views, both upon the constitutional phases and in their asserted bearing upon the intention of Congress. While we think those views reflect a confusion not justified by the actual state of the decisions the confusion has acquired some currency, as the [327 U.S. 186, 197] divided state of opinion among the circuits shows. 19 Since the matter is of some importance, in order to remove any possible basis for like misunderstanding in the future, we give more detailed consideration to the views advanced and to the authorities than would otherwise be necessary.
There are two difficulties with petitioners' theory concerning the intent of Congress. One is that the argument from the so-called legislative history flies in the face of the powers expressly granted to the Administrator and the courts by 9 and 11(a), so flatly that to accept petitioners' view would largely nullify them. 20 Furthermore the excerpted history from the later appropriation matters does not give the full story and when that is considered the claimed interpretation is not made out, regardless of its retrospective aspect. 21 Moreover, the [327 U.S. 186, 198] statute's language leaves no room to doubt that Congress intended to authorize just what the Administrator did and sought to have the courts do. 22
Section 11(a) ex- [327 U.S. 186, 199] pressly authorizes the Administrator to 'enter and inspect such places and such records (and make such transcriptions thereof), question such employees, and investigate such facts, conditions, practices, or matters as he may deem appropriate to determine whether any person has violated any provision of this Act, or which may aid in the enforcement of the provisions of this Act.' 23 The subpoena power conferred by 9 (through adoption of 9 of the Federal Trade Commission Act) is [327 U.S. 186, 200] given in aid of this investigation and, in case of disobedience, the District Courts are called upon to enforce the subpoena through their contempt powers,24 without express condition requiring showing of coverage. 25 [327 U.S. 186, 201] In view of these provisions, with which the Administrator's action was in exact compliance, this case presents an instance of 'the most explicit language'26 which leaves no room for questioning Congress' intent. The very purpose of the subpoena and of the order, as of the authorized investigation, is to discover and procure evidence, not to prove a pending charge or complaint, but upon which to make one if, in the Administrator's judgment, the facts thus discovered should justify doing so.
Accordingly, if 9 and 11(a) are not to be construed as authorizing enforcement of the orders, it must be, as petitioners say, because this construction would make them so dubious constitutionally as to compel resort to an interpretation which saves rather than to one which destroys or is likely to do so. The Court has adopted this course at least once in this type of case. 27 But if the same course is followed here, the judgments must be reversed with the effect of cutting squarely into the power of Congress. For to deny the validity of the orders would be in effect to deny not only Congress' power to enact the provisions sustaining them, but also its authority to delegate effective power to investigate violations of its own laws, if not perhaps also its own power to make such investigations. [327 U.S. 186, 202] III.
The primary source of misconception concerning the Fourth Amendment's function lies perhaps in the identification of cases involving so-called 'figurative' or 'constructive' search with cases of actual search and seizure. 28 Only in this analogical sense can any question related to search and seizure be thought to arise in situations which, like the present ones, involve only the validity of authorized judicial orders.
The confusion is due in part to the fact that this is the very kind of situation in which the decisions have moved with variant direction, although without actual conflict when all of the facts in each case are taken into account. Notwithstanding this, emphasis and tone at times are highly contrasting, with consequent overtones of doubt and confusion for validity of the statute or its application. The subject matter perhaps too often has been generative of heat rather than light, for the border along which the cases lie is one where government intrudes upon different areas of privacy and the history of such intrusions has brought forth some of the stoutest and most effec- [327 U.S. 186, 203] tive instances of resistance to excess of governmental authority. 29
The matter of requiring the production of books and records to secure evidence is not as one-sided, in this kind of situation, as the most extreme expressions of either emphasis would indicate. With some obvious exceptions, there has always been a real problem of balancing the public interest against private security. The cases for protection of the opposing interests are stated as clearly as anywhere perhaps in the summations, quoted in the margin,30 of two former members of this Court, each of [327 U.S. 186, 204] whom was fully alive to the dual necessity of safeguarding adequately the public and the private interest. But emphasis has not always been so aptly placed.
The confusion, obscuring the basic distinction between actual and so- called 'constructive' search has been accentuated where the records and papers sought are of corporate character, as in these cases. Historically private corporations have been subject to broad visitorial power, both in England and in this country. And it long has been established that Congress may exercise wide investigative power over them, analogous to the visitorial power of the incorporating state,31 when their activities take place within or affect interstate commerce32 cor- [327 U.S. 186, 205] respondingly it has been settled that corporations are not entitled to all of the constitutional protections which private individuals have in these and related matters. As has been noted, they are not at all within the privilege against self-incrimination, although this Court more than once has said that the privilege runs very closely with the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure provisions. 33 It is also settled that an officer of the company cannot refuse to produce its records in his possession, upon the plea that they either will incriminate him or may incriminate it. 34 And, although the Fourth Amendment has been [327 U.S. 186, 206] held applicable to corporations35 notwithstanding their exclusion from the privilege against self-incrimination, the same leading case of Wilson v. United States, 221 U.S. 361 , 31 S.Ct. 538, Ann.Cas.1912D, 558, distinguishing the earlier quite different one of Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616 , 6 S.Ct. 524,36 held the process not invalid under the Fourth Amendment, although it broadly required the production of copies of letters and telegrams 'signed or purport(ed) to be signed by the president of said company during the month(s) of May and June, 1909, in regard to an alleged violation of the statutes of the United States by C. C. Wilson.' 221 U.S. at pages 368, 375, 31 S.Ct. at page 539, Ann.Cas.1912D, 558.
The Wilson case has set the pattern of later decisions and has been followed without qualification of its ruling. 37 Contrary suggestions or implications may be explained as dicta;38 or by virtue of the presence of an actual illegal search and seizure, the effects of which the Government sought later to overcome by applying the more liberal doc- [327 U.S. 186, 207] trine devolved in relation to 'constructive search';39 or by the scope of the subpoena in calling for documents so broadly or indefinitely that it was thought to approach in this respect the character of a general warrant or writ of assistance, odious in both English and American history. 40 But no case has been cited or found in which, [327 U.S. 186, 208] upon similar facts, the Wilson doctrine has not been followed. Nor in any has Congress been adjudged to have exceeded its authority, with the single exception of Boyd v. United States, supra, which differed from both the Wilson case and the present ones in providing a drastically incriminating method of enforcement41 which was applied to the production of partners' business records. Whatever limits there may be to congressional power to provide for the production of corporate or other business records, therefore, they are not to be found, in view of the course of prior decisions, in any such absolute or universal immunity as petitioners seek.
Without attempt to summarize or accurately distinguish all of the cases, the fair distillation, in so far as they apply merely to the production of corporate records and papers in response to a subpoena or order authorized by law and safeguarded by judicial sanction, seems to be that the Fifth Amendment affords no protection by virtue of the self- incrimination provision, whether for the corporation or for its officers; and the Fourth, if applicable at the most guards against abuse only by way of too much indefiniteness or breadth in the things required to be 'particularly described,' if also the inquiry is one the demanding agency is authorized by law to make and the materials specified are relevant. The gist of the protection is in the requirement, expressed in terms, that the disclosure sought shall not be unreasonable.
As this has taken from in the decisions, the following specific results have been worked out. It is not necessary, [327 U.S. 186, 209] as in the case of a warrant, that a specific charge or complaint of violation of law be pending or that the order be made pursuant to one. It is enough that the investigation be for a lawfully authorized purpose, within the power of Congress to command. This has been ruled most often perhaps in relation to grand jury investigations,42 but also frequently in respect to general or statistical investigations authorized by Congress. 43 The requirement of 'probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation' literally applicable in the case of a warrant is satisfied, in that of an order for production, by the court's determination that the investigation is authorized by Congress, is for a purpose Congress can order, and the documents sought are relevant to the inquiry. 44 Beyond this the requirement of reasonableness, including particularity in 'describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized,' also literally applicable to warrants, comes down to specification of the documents to be produced adequate, but not excessive, for the purposes of the relevant inquiry. Necessarily, as has been said, this cannot be reduced to formula; for relevancy and adequacy or excess in the breadth of the subpoena are matters variable in relation to the nature, purposes and scope of the inquiry. 45
When these principles are applied to the facts of the present cases, it is impossible to conceive how a violation of petitioners' rights could have been involved. Both [327 U.S. 186, 210] were corporations. The only records or documents sought were corporate ones. No possible element of self-incrimination was therefore presented or in fact claimed. All the records sought were relevant to the authorized inquiry,46 the purpose of which was to determine two issues, whether petitioners were subject to the Act and, if so, whether they were violating it. These were subjects of investigation authorized by 11(a), the latter expressly, the former by necessary implication. 47 It is not to be doubted that Congress could authorize investigation of these matters. In all these respects,48 the specifications [327 U.S. 186, 211] more than meet the requirements long established by many precedents.
More recent confirmation of those rulings may be found in Endicott Johnson Corp. v. Perkins, supra, and Myers v. Bethlehem Corp., 303 U.S. 41 , 58 S.Ct. 459. it is true that these cases involved different statutes substantially and procedurally. But, notwithstanding the possible influence of the doctrine of governmental immunity to suit in the Endicott Johnson case, it would be anomalous to hold that under the Walsh-Healy Act, 49 Stat. 2036, 41 U.S.C.A. 35-45, the District Court was not authorized to decide the question of coverage or, on the basis of its adverse decision, to deny enforcement to the Secretary's subpoena seeking relevant evidence on that question, because Congress had committed its initial determination to him; and at the same time to rule that Congress could not confer the same power upon the Administrator with reference to violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. 49 The question at issue is not in either case the nature of the legal obligation violation of which the evidence is sought to show. It is rather whether evidence relevant to the violation, whatever the obligation's character, can be drawn forth by the exercise of the subpoena power.
The Myers case did not involve a subpoena duces tecum, but was a suit to enjoin the National Labor Relations Board from holding a hearing upon a complaint against an employer alleged to be engaged in unfair labor practices forbidden by the Wagner Act, 49 Stat. 449, 29 U.S.C.A. 151 et seq. The hearing required an investigation and determination of coverage, involving as in this case the question whether the company was engaged in commerce. It denied this upon allegations thought to sustain the denial, as well as [327 U.S. 186, 212] the futility, expensiveness and vexatious character of the hearing to itself. 50 This Court held that the District Court was without jurisdiction to enjoin the hearing. Regarding as appropriate the procedure before the Board and as adequate the provisions for judicial review of its action, including its determination of coverage, the Court sustained the exclusive jurisdiction of the Board, and of the Court of Appeals upon review, to determine that question, with others committed to their judgment, in the statutory proceeding for determining whether violations of the ct exist. The opinion referred to the Board's subpoena power, also to its authority to apply to a District Court for enforcement, and stated that 'to such an application appropriate defense may be made.' But the decision's necessary effect was to rule that it was not 'an appropriate defense' that coverage had not been determined prior to the hearing or, it would seem necessarily to follow, prior to the Board's preliminary investigation of violation. If this is true in the case of the Board, it would seem to be equally true in that of the Administrator. 51 [327 U.S. 186, 213] In these results under the later as well as the earlier decisions, the basic compromise has been worked out in a manner to secure the public interest and at the same time to guard the private ones affected against the only abuses from which protection rightfully may be claimed. The latter are not identical with those protected against invasion by actual search and seizure, nor are the threatened abuses the same. They are rather the interests of men to be free from officious intermeddling, whether because irrelevant to any lawful purpose or because unauthorized by law, concerning matters which on proper occasion and within lawfully conferred authority of broad limits are subject to public examination in the public interest. Officious examination can be expensive, so much so that it eats up men's substance. It can be time consuming, clogging the processes of business. It can become persecution when carried beyond reason.
On the other hand, petitioners' view if accepted would stop much if not all of investigation in the public interest at the threshold of inquiry and, in the case of the Administrator, is designed avowedly to do so. This would render substantially impossible his effective discharge of the duties of investigation and enforcement which Congress has placed upon him. And if his functions could be thus blocked, so might many others of equal importa ce. [327 U.S. 186, 214] We think, therefore, that the Courts of Appeals were correct in the view that Congress has authorized the Administrator, rather than the District Courts in the first instance, to determine the question of coverage in the preliminary investigation of possibly existing violations; in doing so to exercise his subpoena power for securing evidence upon that question, by seeking the production of petitioners' relevant books, records and papers; and, in case of refusal to obey his subpoena, issued according to the statute's authorization, to have the aid of the District Court in enforcing it. No constitutional provision forbids Congress to do this. On the contrary, its authority would seem clearly to be comprehended in the 'necessary and proper' clause, as incidental to both its general legislative and its investigative powers.
What has been said disposes of petitioners' principal contention upon the sufficiency of the showing. Other assignments, however, present the further questions whether any showing is required beyond the Administrator's allegations of coverage and relevance of the required materials to that question; and, if so, of what character. Stated otherwise they are whether the court may order enforcement only upon a finding of 'probable cause,' that is, probability in fact, of coverage, as was held by the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in No. 61, following the lead of the Eighth Circuit in Walling v. Benson, 137 F.2d 501, 149 A.L.R. 186, or may do so upon the narrower basis accepted by the Third Circuit in No. 63.
The showing in No. 61 was clearly sufficient to constitute 'probable cause' in this sense under conceptions of coverage prevailing at the time of the hearing, 52 whether [327 U.S. 186, 215] or not that showing was necessary. Accordingly the judgment in that case must be affirmed.
In No. 63 the showing was less extensive, and it is doubtful that it would constitute 'probable cause' of coverage as that term was used in the decisions from the Tenth and Eighth Circuits. 53 The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit did not so label it, but held the showing sufficient.
Congress has made no requirements in terms of any showing of 'probable cause', 54 and, in view of what has already been said, any possible constitutional requirement [327 U.S. 186, 216] of that sort was satisfied by the Administrator's showing in this case, including not only the allegations concerning coverage, but also that he was proceeding with his investigation in accordance with the mandate of Congress and that the records sought were relevant to that purpose. Actually, in view of today's ruling in Mabee v. White Plains Pub. Co., supra, the showing here, including the facts supplied by the response, was sufficient to establish coverage itself, though that was not required.
The result therefore sustains the Administrator's position that his investigative function, in searching out violations with a view to securing enforcement of the Act, is essentially the same as the grand jury's, or the court's in issuing other pretrial orders for the discovery of evidence,55 and is governed by the same limitations. These are that he shall not act arbitrarily or in excess of his statutory authority, but this does not mean that his inquiry must be 'limited ... by ... forecasts of the probable result of the investigation ....' Blair v. United States, 250 U.S. 273, 282 , 39 S.Ct. 468, 471; cf. Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43 , 26 S.Ct. 370. Nor is the judicial function either abused or abased, as has been suggested,56 by leaving to it the determination of the [327 U.S. 186, 217] important questions which the Administrator's position concedes the courts may decide.