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First Amendment Library:
John F. Ward, Jr.


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.