Power of Congress to punish those persons who refuse to cooperate in its investigations by jailing them.
In Anderson v. Dunn
Passmore Williamson, an abolitionist, was jailed for contempt of court for giving evasive testimony regarding his part in freeing three slaves. This court power has been limited somewhat by Supreme Court rulings designed to prevent abuses.
Congress removed the limitations on its contempt power by enacting a law in 1857 that made it a criminal offense to refuse to provide information to either chamber. During the Cold War and congressional investigations of communism in the United States, the Court changed its position on the ability of Congress to force witnesses to testify. In Watkins v. United States
Barenblatt v. United States
Congressional power of investigation
Contempt power of courts
Watkins v. United States