LEFKOWITZ V. TURLEY, 414 U. S. 70 (1973)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 U.S. 70 (1973)

Lefkowitz v. Turley

No. 72-331

Argued October 10, 1973

Decided November 19, 1973

414 U.S. 70


New York statutes require public contracts to provide that, if a contractor refuses to waive immunity or to testify concerning his state contracts, his existing contracts may be canceled and he shall be disqualified from further transactions with the State for five years, and further require disqualification from contracting with public authorities upon a person's failure to waive immunity or answer questions respecting his state transactions. Appellees, New York-licensed architects, when summoned to testify before a grand jury investigating various criminal charges, refused to sign waivers of immunity, whereupon various contracting authorities were notified of appellees' conduct and had their attention called to the applicable disqualification statutes. Appellees thereafter brought this action challenging the statutes as violative of their constitutional privilege against compelled self-incrimination. A three-judge District Court declared the statutes unconstitutional under the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments.


1. The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is not inapplicable simply because the issue arises in the context of official inquiries into the job performance of a public contractor. The ordinary rule is that the privilege is available to witnesses called before a grand jury as these appellees were, and the State's legitimate interest in maintaining the integrity of its civil service and of its transactions with independent contractors, like other state concerns, cannot override the requirements of the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 414 U. S. 77-79.

2. The State could not compel testimony that had not been immunized, and the waiver sought by the State, under threat of loss of contracts, would have been no less compelled than a direct request for the testimony without resort to the waiver device, Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U. S. 493; Gardner v. Broderick, 392 U. S. 273; Sanitation Men v. Sanitation Comm'r, 392 U. S. 280, and there is no constitutional distinction in terms of compulsion between the threat of job loss in those cases and the threat of contract loss to a contractor. Pp. 414 U. S. 79-84. chanrobles.com-red

Page 414 U. S. 71

3. Under a proper accommodation between the interest of the State and the Fifth Amendment, the State can require employees or contractors to respond to inquiries, but only if it offers them immunity sufficient to supplant their Fifth Amendment privilege. Kastigar v. United States, 406 U. S. 441. Pp. 414 U. S. 84-85.

342 F.Supp. 544, affirmed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, and in which BRENNAN, J., joined by a separate qualifying opinion, in which DOUGLAS and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 414 U. S. 85.


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