The petitioners, 187 in number, were convicted in a magistrate's court in Columbia, South Carolina, of the *230 common-law crime of breach of the peace. Their convictions were ultimately affirmed by the South Carolina Supreme Court, 239 S. C. 339, 123 S. E. 2d 247. We granted certiorari, 369 U. S. 870, to consider the claim that these convictions cannot be squared with the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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These cases come to us from the Supreme Court of Louisiana and draw in question the constitutionality of the petitioners' convictions in the 19th Judicial District Court, Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the crime of disturbing the peace. The petitioners[1] were brought to trial and convicted on informations charging them with violating Title 14, Article 103 (7), of the Louisiana Criminal Code, 1942, in that "they refused to move from a cafe counter seat . . . after having been ordered to do so by the agent [of the establishment]; said conduct being in such manner as to unreasonably and foreseeably disturb the public . . . ." In accordance with state procedure, petitioners sought post-conviction review in the Supreme Court of Louisiana through writs of certiorari. mandamus and prohibition. They contended that the *159 State had presented no evidence to support the findings of statutory violation, and that their convictions were invalid on other constitutional grounds, both state and federal. Relief was denied. Federal questions were properly raised and preserved throughout the proceedings, and timely petitions for certiorari filed in this Court were granted. 365 U.S. 840. The United States Government appeared as amicus curiae urging, on various grounds, that the convictions be reversed. An amicus brief also urging reversal was filed by the Committee on the Bill of Rights of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

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A black minister who led an orderly civil rights march in Birmingham, Ala. in 1963, was arrested and convicted for violating § 1159 of the city's General Code, an ordinance which proscribed participating in any parade or procession on city streets or public ways without first obtaining a permit from the City Commission. Section 1159 permitted the Commission to refuse a parade permit if its members believed that "the public welfare, peace, safety, health, decency, good order, morals or convenience require that it be refused." The minister had previously been given to understand by a member of the Commission that under no circumstances would he and his group be allowed to demonstrate in Birmingham.

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On Wednesday, April 10, 1963, officials of Birmingham, Alabama, filed a bill of complaint in a state circuit court asking for injunctive relief against 139 individuals and *309 two organizations. The bill and accompanying affidavits stated that during the preceding seven days:

"[R]espondents [had] sponsored and/or participated in and/or conspired to commit and/or to encourage and/or to participate in certain movements, plans or projects commonly called `sit-in' demonstrations, `kneel-in' demonstrations, mass street parades, trespasses on private property after being warned to leave the premises by the owners of said property, congregating in mobs upon the public streets and other public places, unlawfully picketing private places of business in the City of Birmingham, Alabama; violation of numerous ordinances and statutes of the City of Birmingham and State of Alabama . . . ."
It was alleged that this conduct was "calculated to provoke breaches of the peace," "threaten[ed] the safety, peace and tranquility of the City," and placed "an undue burden and strain upon the manpower of the Police Department."The bill stated that these infractions of the law were expected to continue and would "lead to further imminent danger to the lives, safety, peace, tranquility and general welfare of the people of the City of Birmingham," and that the "remedy by law [was] inadequate." The circuit judge granted a temporary injunction as prayed in the bill, enjoining the petitioners from, among other things, participating in or encouraging mass street parades or mass processions without a permit as required by a Birmingham ordinance.[1]*310 Five of the eight petitioners were served with copies of the writ early the next morning. Several hours later four of them held a press conference. There a statement was distributed, declaring their intention to disobey the injunction because it was "raw tyranny under the guise of maintaining law and order."[2] At this press conference one of the petitioners stated: "That they had respect for the Federal Courts, or Federal Injunctions, but in the past the State Courts had favored local law enforcement, and if the police couldn't handle it, the mob would."That night a meeting took place at which one of the petitioners announced that "[i]njunction or no injunction we are going to march tomorrow." The next afternoon, Good Friday, a large crowd gathered in the vicinity of Sixteenth Street and Sixth Avenue North in Birmingham. A group of about 50 or 60 proceeded to parade along the sidewalk while a crowd of 1,000 to 1,500 onlookers stood by, "clapping, and hollering, and [w]hooping." *311 Some of the crowd followed the marchers and spilled out into the street. At least three of the petitioners participated in this march.

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