This case involves an investigation launched by the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District (SCI) into a New York Post story that claimed students from a Manhattan high school had traveled to Cuba. As part of the investigation, SCI subpoenaed the Inter-Religious Foundation for Community Organizations (IFCO) and the organization’s leader, the Rev. Lucius Walker. In seeking to compel enforcement of the subpoenas, SCI asserts that the subpoenas were part of an SCI investigation into whether Department of Education (DOE) employees took students to Cuba in violation of federal law and whether DOE effectively informed students, parents or guardians, and DOE administrators of the government’s restrictions on travel to Cuba.
IFCO and Reverend Walker moved to quash the subpoenas on several grounds. First, they argue that SCI has no authority to investigate the matter because the federal government has exclusive regulatory authority over travel to Cuba and because the city charter granting authority to SCI does not authorize an investigation into the type of misconduct at issue here. IFCO and Rev. Walker further contend that the subpoenas impose an unjustified burden upon the First Amendment rights of IFCO and Reverend Walker, and that they violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable seizures and the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The State Supreme Court of New York County ruled against Walker on Jan. 17, 2008. The case was appealed to the Appellate Division, First Department, which heard arguments on April 17, 2008. The First Department rejected the appeal on May 6, 2008.
State Supreme Court, New York County, Index No. 07-406704 (direct)