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return for ... (1) being influenced in his performance of any official act” is guilty of an offense.
The question is whether it is necessary to inquire into how appellee spoke, how he debated, how he voted, or anything he did in the chamber or in committee in order to make out a violation of this statute. The illegal conduct is taking or agreeing to take money for a promise to act in a certain way. There is no need for the Government to show that appellee fulfilled the alleged illegal bargain; acceptance of the bribe is the violation of the statute, not performance of the illegal promise.
Taking a bribe is, obviously, no part of the legislative process or function; it is not a legislative act. It is not, by any conceivable interpretation, an act performed as a part of or even incidental to the role of a legislator. It is not an "act resulting from the nature, and in the execution, of the office.” Nor is it a "thing said or done by him, as a representative, in the exercise of the functions of that office,” 4 Mass., at 27. Nor is inquiry into a legislative act or the motivation for a legislative act necessary to a prosecution under this statute or this indictment. When a bribe is taken, it does not matter whether the promise for which the bribe was given was for the performance of a legislative act as here or, as in Johnson, for use of a Congressman's influence with the Executive Branch. And an inquiry into the purpose of a bribe “does not draw in question the legislative acts of the defendant member of Congress or his motives for performing them.” 383 U. S., at 185.
Nor does it matter if the Member defaults on his illegal bargain. To make a prima facie case under this indictment, the Government need not show any act of appellee subsequent to the corrupt promise for payment, for it is taking the bribe, not performance of the illicit compact, that is a criminal act. If, for example, there were undisputed evidence that a Member took a bribe in exchange
Opinion of the Court
for an agreement to vote for a given bill and if there were also undisputed evidence that he, in fact, voted against the bill, can it be thought that this alters the nature of the bribery or removes it from the area of wrongdoing the Congress sought to make a crime?
Another count of the indictment against appellee alleges that he "asked, demanded, exacted, solicited, sought, accepted, received and agreed to receive” money "for and because of official acts performed by him in respect to his action, vote and decision on postage rate legislation which had been pending before him in his official capacity ...." This count is founded on 18 U. S. C. § 201 (g), which provides that a Member of Congress who "asks, demands, exacts, solicits, seeks, accepts, receives, or agrees to receive anything of value for himself for or because of any official act performed or to be performed by him” is guilty of an offense. Although the indictment alleges that the bribe was given for an act that was actually performed, it is, once again, unnecessary to inquire into the act or its motivation. To sustain a conviction it is necessary to show that appellee solicited, received, or agreed to receive, money with knowledge that the donor was paying him compensation for an official act. Inquiry into the legislative performance itself is not necessary; evidence of the Member's knowledge of the alleged briber's illicit reasons for paying the money is sufficient to carry the case to the jury.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE rests heavily on the fact that the indictment charges the offense as being in part linked to Brewster's “action, vote and decision on postage rate legislation.” This is true, of course, but our holding in Johnson precludes any showing of how he acted, voted, or decided. The dissenting position stands on the fragile proposition that it "would take the Government at its word” with respect to wanting to prove what we all agree
are protected acts that cannot be shown in evidence. Perhaps the Government would make a more appealing case if it could do so, but here, as in that case, evidence of acts protected by the Clause is inadmissible. The Government, as we have noted, need not prove any specific act, speech, debate, or decision to establish a violation of the statute under which appellee was indicted. To accept the arguments of the dissent would be to retreat from the Court's position in Johnson that a Member may be convicted if no showing of legislative act is required.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN suggests that inquiry into the alleged bribe is inquiry into the motivation for a legislative act, and it is urged that this very inquiry was condemned as impermissible in Johnson. That argument misconstrues the concept of motivation for legislative acts. The Speech or Debate Clause does not prohibit inquiry into illegal conduct simply because it has some nexus to legislative functions. In Johnson, the Court held that, on remand, Johnson could be retried on the conspiracy-to-defraud count, so long as evidence concerning his speech on the House floor was not admitted. The Court's opinion plainly implies that had the Government chosen to retry Johnson on that count, he could not have obtained immunity from prosecution by asserting that the matter being inquired into was related to the motivation for his House speech. See n. 7, supra.
The only reasonable reading of the Clause, consistent with its history and purpose, is that it does not prohibit inquiry into activities that are casually or incidentally related to legislative affairs but not a part of the legislative process itself. Under this indictment and these statutes no such proof is needed.
We hold that under these statutes and this indictment, prosecution of appellee is not prohibited by the Speech
BRENNAN, J., dissenting
or Debate Clause.1 Accordingly, the judgment of the District Court is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Reversed and remanded.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS joins, dissenting.
When this case first came before the Court, I had thought it presented a single, well-defined issue—that is, whether the Congress could authorize by a narrowly drawn statute the prosecution of a Senator or Representative for conduct otherwise immune from prosecution under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution. Counts 1, 3, 5, and 7 of the indictment charged Senator Brewster with receiving $19,000 “in return for being influenced in his performance of official acts in respect to his action, vote, and decision on postage rate legislation which might at any time be pending before him in his official capacity [as a member of the Senate Post Office Committee].” Count 9 charged the Senator with receipt of another $5,000 for acts already performed by him with respect to his "action, vote and decision” on that legislation. These charges, it seemed to me, fell within the clear prohibition of the Speech or Debate Clause as interpreted by decisions of this Court, particularly United States v. Johnson, 383 U. S. 169 (1966).
18 In reversing the District Court's ruling that a Member of Congress may not be constitutionally tried for a violation of the federal bribery statutes, we express no views on the question left open in Johnson as to the constitutionality of an inquiry that probes into legislative acts or the motivation for legislative acts if Congress specifically authorizes such in a narrowly drawn statute. Should such an inquiry be made and should a conviction be sustained, then we would face the question whether inquiry into legislative acts and motivation is permissible under such a narrowly drawn statute.
BRENNAN, J., dissenting
For if the indictment did not call into question the "speeches or debates” of the Senator, it certainly laid open to scrutiny the motives for his legislative acts; and those motives, I had supposed, were no more subject to executive and judicial inquiry than the acts themselves, unless, of course, the Congress could delegate such inquiry to the other branches.
That, apparently, was the Government's view of the case as well. At the hearing before the District Court the prosecutor was asked point blank whether "the indictment in any wise allege[d] that Brewster did anything not related to his purely legislative functions.” The prosecutor responded:
“We are not contending that what is being charged here, that is, the activity by Brewster, was anything other than a legislative act. We are not ducking the question; it is squarely presented. They are legislative acts. We are not going to quibble
over that.” App. 28. The Government, in other words, did not challenge the applicability of the Clause to these charges, but argued only that its prohibitions could be avoided, "waived” as it were, through congressional authorization in the form of a narrowly drawn bribery statute. The District Court accepted the Government's reading of the indictment and held that the Senator could not be prosecuted for this conduct even under the allegedly narrow provisions of 18 U. S. C. $ 201:
“Gentlemen, based on the facts of this case, it is admitted by the Government that the five counts of the indictment which charge Senator Brewster relate to the acceptance of bribes in connection with the performance of a legislative function by a Senator of the United States.