Archie Brown, 79, a former West Coast leader of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union and a communist who won a landmark case in the Supreme Court in 1965, died of cancer Nov. 23 at his home in San Francisco.
In 1961, he was a member of the executive board of the Longshoremen's San Francisco local when he was arrested for violation of the of anti-communist provision of the 1959 Landrum-Griffin labor act.
The provision said it was illegal for a member of the Communist Party to hold a union office.
Mr. Brown said he was a communist, having run for governor, congressman and San Francisco supervisor on the Communist ticket.
However, he held that the act was unconstitutional because it violated his union's democratic right to freely choose its officers.
He was convicted in U.S. District Court in 1962 and sentenced to six months in prison. He appealed the verdict and was released on $5,000 bail.
In 1964, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the indictment and reversed the conviction, ruling that Communist Party membership combined with union officership proved guilt of nothing.
In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, ruled that the anti-communist provision of the act was unconstitutional.
Mr. Brown was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and dropped out of high school to travel to California. He sold newspapers in the streets of Oakland and helped organize a newsboys' strike.
He joined the Young Communist League in 1929 and the Communist Party in 1935.
He became active in the Longshoremen's union in San Francisco in 1934 and retired from it in 1976. He fought with the Republican forces in Spain during that country's civil war.
He also served as an Army infantryman in Europe during World War II.
Survivors include his wife, Esther, of San Francisco; a son, three daughters, a sister, two brothers, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.