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Majority Opinions Authored by Justice Hugo Black

The question presented here is whether the provisions of a Los Angeles City ordinance restricting the distribution of handbills "abridge the freedom of speech and of the press secured against state invasion by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution."[1] The ordinance, § 28.06 of the Municipal Code of the City of Los Angeles. provides:

"No person shall distribute any hand-bill in any place under any circumstances, which does not have *61 printed on the cover, or the face thereof, the name and address of the following:
"(a) The person who printed, wrote, compiled or manufactured the same.
"(b) The person who caused the same to be distributed; provided, however, that in the case of a fictitious person or club, in addition to such fictitious name, the true names and addresses of the owners, managers or agents of the person sponsoring said hand-bill shall also appear thereon."
The petitioner was arrested and tried in a Los Angeles Municipal Court for violating this ordinance. It was stipulated that the petitioner had distributed handbills in Los Angeles, and two of them were presented in evidence. Each had printed on it the following:National Consumers Mobilization,Box 6533,Los Angeles 55, Calif.

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Article 37 of the Declaration of Rights of the Maryland Constitution provided: "[N]o religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God . . . ." The appellant, Roy Torcaso, was appointed to the office of Notary Public by the Governor of Maryland but was refused a commission to serve because he would not declare his belief in God. He then brought an action in a Maryland Circuit Court to compel issuance of his commission, charging that the State's requirement that he declare this belief violated "the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States . . . ." The Circuit Court rejected these federal constitutional contentions, and the highest court of the State, the Court of Appeals, affirmed, holding that the state constitutional provision is self-executing and requires declaration of belief in God as a qualification for office without need for implementing legislation.

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The appellant was charged in the Justice Court of Medina County, Texas, with violating Article 479, Chap. 3 of the Texas Penal Code which makes it an offense for any "peddler or hawker of goods or merchandise" wilfully to refuse to leave premises after having been notified to do so by the owner or possessor thereof. The appellant urged in his defense that he was not a peddler or hawker of merchandise, but a minister of the gospel engaged in the distribution of religious literature to willing recipients. He contended that to construe the Texas statute as applicable to his activities would, to that extent, bring it into conflict with the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of press and religion. His contention was rejected and he was convicted. On appeal to the Medina County Court, his Constitutional contention was again overruled. Since he could not appeal to a higher state court this appeal under § 237 (a) of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. 344 (a) is properly before us. Largent v. Texas, 318 U.S. 418.

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The Illinois State Bar Association and others filed this complaint to enjoin the United Mine Workers of America, District 12, from engaging in certain practices alleged to constitute the unauthorized practice of law. The essence of the complaint was that the Union had employed a licensed attorney on a salary basis to represent any of its members who wished his services to prosecute workmen's compensation claims before the Illinois Industrial Commission. The trial court found from facts that were not in dispute that employment of an attorney by the association for this purpose did constitute unauthorized practice and permanently enjoined the Union from "[e]mploying attorneys on salary or retainer basis to represent its members with respect to Workmen's Compensation claims and any and all other claims which they may have under the statutes and laws of Illinois."[1] The *219 Illinois Supreme Court rejected the Mine Workers' contention that this decree abridged their freedom of speech, petition, and assembly under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and affirmed. We granted certiorari, 386 U. S. 941 (1967), to consider whether this holding conflicts with our decisions in Railroad Trainmen v. Virginia Bar, 377 U. S. 1 (1964), and NAACP v. Button, 371 U. S. 415 (1963).

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The District Court dismissed a criminal information filed against the respondent, James C. Petrillo, on the ground that the statute on which the information was founded was unconstitutional. 68 F. Supp. 845. The case is here on direct appeal by the Government as authorized by the Criminal Appeals Act. 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V, 1946) § 682. The information charged a violation of the Communications Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 1064, 1102, as amended by an Act of April 16, 1946. 60 Stat. 89. The specific provisions of the Amendment charged to have been violated read:

"SEC. 506. (a) It shall be unlawful, by the use or express or implied threat of the use of force, violence, intimidation, or duress, or by the use or express or implied threat of the use of other means, to coerce, compel or constrain or attempt to coerce, compel, or constrain a licensee —
"(1) to employ or agree to employ, in connection with the conduct of the broadcasting business of such licensee, any person or persons in excess of the number of employees needed by such licensee to perform actual services; or
.....
"(d) Whoever willfully violates any provision of subsection (a) or (b) of this section shall, upon conviction *4 thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or both." 60 Stat. 89.
The information alleged that a radio broadcasting company, holding a federal license, had, for several years immediately preceding, employed "certain persons who were sufficient and adequate in number to perform all of the actual services needed .. . in connection with the conduct of its broadcasting business." The information further charged that the respondent, Petrillo, "wilfully, by the use of force, intimidation, duress and by the use of other means, did attempt to coerce, compel and constrain said licensee to employ and agree to employ, in connection with the conduct of its radio broadcasting business, three additional persons not needed by said licensee to perform actual services .. . ."The coercion was allegedly accomplished in the following manner:
"(1) By directing and causing three musicians, members of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, theretofore employed by the said licensee in connection with the conduct of its broadcasting business, to discontinue their employment with said licensee;
"(2) By directing and causing said three employees and other persons, members of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, not to accept employment by said licensee; and,
"(3) By placing and causing to be placed a person as a picket in front of the place of business of said licensee."
The only challenge to the information was a motion to dismiss on the ground that the Act on which the information was based (a) abridges freedom of speech in contravention of the First Amendment; (b) is repugnant to the Fifth Amendment because it defines a crime in *5 terms that are excessively vague, and denies equal protection of the law and liberty of contract; (c) imposes involuntary servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.[1] The District Court dismissed the information, holding that the 1946 Amendment on which it was based violates the First, Fifth, and Thirteenth Amendments.

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398 U.S. 333 (1970) WELSH v. UNITED STATES.       No. 76. Supreme Court of United States.    Argued January 20, 1970 Decided June 15, 1970 CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.*334 J. B. Tietz argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioner.Solicitor General Griswold argued the cause… Read more

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