Constitutional Law – Right to Travel – Authority of Secretary of State to Deny Passports
Petitioner’s application for a passport was denied under §51.135 of the Passport Regulations promulgated by the Secretary of State on the grounds that he was a Communist and that he had a record of consistent and prolonged adherence to the Communist Party line. The letter of denial stated that before a passport would be issued, a non-communist affidavit as provided for in the Regulations would be required. Following petitioner’s refusal to file the affidavit the State Department informed him that until one was filed his application would receive no further consideration. Petitioner thereupon brought an action for declaratory relief in the district court, but the court granted summary judgment for respondent. The court of appeals affirmed. On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, held, reversed, four justices dissenting. The right to travel is a “liberty” protected by the Constitution and Congress has not authorized its curtailment by the Secretary of State on the grounds set forth in §51.135 of the Regulations. Therefore, respondent could not require a non-communist affidavit from petitioner. Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116 (1958).