Opinions & Commentaries

341 U.S. 123 (1951) JOINT ANTI-FASCIST REFUGEE COMMITTEE v. McGRATH, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL.   NO. 8. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued October 11, 1950. Decided April 30, 1951. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.[*]*124 O. John Rogge and Benedict Wolf argued the cause for… Read more

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This case originated in companion suits by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Inc. (NAACP), and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (Defense Fund), brought in 1957 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The suits sought to restrain the enforcement of Chapters 31, 32, 33, 35 and 36 of the Virginia Acts of Assembly, 1956 Extra Session, on the ground that the *418 statutes, as applied to the activities of the plaintiffs, violated the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge court convened pursuant to 28 U. S. C. ง 2281, after hearing evidence and making fact-findings, struck down Chapters 31, 32 and 35 but abstained from passing upon the validity of Chapters 33 and 36 pending an authoritative interpretation of these statutes by the Virginia courts.[1] The complainants thereupon petitioned in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond to declare Chapters 33 and 36 inapplicable to their activities, or, if applicable, unconstitutional. The record in the Circuit Court was that made before the three-judge court supplemented by additional evidence. The Circuit Court held the chapters to be both applicable and constitutional. The holding was sustained by the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals as to Chapter 33, but reversed as to Chapter 36, which was held unconstitutional under both state and federal law.[2] Thereupon the Defense Fund returned to the Federal District Court, where its case is presently pending, while the NAACP filed the instant petition. We granted certiorari, 365 U. S. 842.[3] We heard argument in the 1961 Term *419 and ordered reargument this Term. 369 U. S. 833. Since no cross-petition was filed to review the Supreme Court of Appeals' disposition of Chapter 36, the only issue before us is the constitutionality of Chapter 33 as applied to the activities of the NAACP.There is no substantial dispute as to the facts; the dispute centers about the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of Chapter 33, as construed and applied by the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to include NAACP's activities within the statute's ban against "the improper solicitation of any legal or professional business."The NAACP was formed in 1909 and incorporated under New York law as a nonprofit membership corporation in 1911. It maintains its headquarters in New York and presently has some 1,000 active unincorporated branches throughout the Nation. The corporation is licensed to do business in Virginia, and has 89 branches there. The Virginia branches are organized into the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (the Conference), an unincorporated association, which in 1957 had some 13,500 members. The activities of the Conference are financed jointly by the national organization and the local branches from contributions and membership dues. NAACP policy, binding upon local branches and conferences, is set by the annual national convention.

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Four out-of-state distributors sued the Rhode Island Commission to Encourage Morality in Youth. The Commission would notify distributors which books the Commission deemed obscene and would recommend to law enforcement which distributors did not cooperate. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island declined to hold the law unconstitutional and stop its enforcement.

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Appellant sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Maryland motion picture censorship statute, Md. Ann. Code, 1957, Art. 66A, and exhibited the film "Revenge at Daybreak" at his Baltimore theatre without first submitting the picture to the State Board of Censors as required by § 2 thereof.[1] The State concedes that the picture does not violate the statutory standards[2] and *53 would have received a license if properly submitted, but the appellant was convicted of a § 2 violation despite his contention that the statute in its entirety unconstitutionally impaired freedom of expression. The Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed, 233 Md. 498, 197 A. 2d 232, and we noted probable jurisdiction, 377 U. S. 987. We reverse.

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Section 1461 of Title 18, U. S. C., prohibits the knowing use of the mails for the delivery of obscene matter.[1] The issue presented by the jurisdictional statement in this case is whether § 1461 is constitutional as applied to the distribution of obscene materials to willing recipients who state that they are adults. The District Court held that it was not.[2] We disagree and reverse the judgment.

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Appellant is a town attorney in Nassau County, N. Y., who, along with other local law enforcement officials, was preliminary enjoined by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York from enforcing a local ordinance of the town of North Hempstead. Salem Inn, Inc. v. Frank, 364 F. Supp. 478 (1973), aff'd, 501 F. 2d 18 (CA2 1974). In addition to defending the ordinance on the merits, he contends that the complaint should have been dismissed on the authority of Younger v. Harris, 401 U. S. 37 (1971), and its companion cases.

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The issue in this case is the validity under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of a municipal ordinance prohibiting the solicitation of contributions by charitable organizations that do not use at least 75 percent of their receipts for "charitable purposes," those purposes being defined to exclude solicitation expenses, salaries, overhead, and other administrative expenses. The Court of Appeals held the ordinance unconstitutional. We affirm that judgment.

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454 U.S. 464 (1982) VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE v. AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, INC., ET AL. No. 80-327. Supreme Court of United States. Argued November 4, 1981 Decided January 12, 1982 CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT *465 C. Clark Hodgson, Jr., argued the cause… Read more

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In Schaumburg v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 444 U. S. 620 (1980), this Court, with one dissenting vote, concluded that a municipal ordinance prohibiting the solicitation of contributions by a charitable organization that did not use at least 75% of its receipts for "charitable purposes" was unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The issue in the present case is whether a Maryland statute with a like percentage limitation, but with provisions that render it more "flexible" than the *950 Schaumburg ordinance, can withstand constitutional attack. The Court of Appeals of Maryland concluded that, even with this increased flexibility, the percentage restriction on charitable solicitation was an unconstitutional limitation on protected First Amendment solicitation activity. We agree with that conclusion and affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

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The courts below declared unconstitutional the following Virginia statute: "It shall be unlawful for any person . . . to knowingly display for commercial purpose in a manner whereby juveniles may examine and peruse" visual or written material that "depicts sexually explicit nudity, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse and which is harmful to juveniles." Va. Code § 18.2-391(a) (Supp. 1987). The unique factual and procedural setting of this case leads us to conclude that an authoritative construction of the Virginia statute by the Virginia Supreme Court would substantially aid our review of this constitutional holding, and might well determine the case entirely. Accordingly, we certify two questions to the Virginia Supreme Court.[1]

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The city of Lakewood, a suburban community bordering Cleveland, Ohio, appeals a judgment of the Court of Appeals *753 for the Sixth Circuit enjoining enforcement of its local ordinance regulating the placement of newsracks. The court's decision was based in part on its conclusion that the ordinance vests the mayor with unbridled discretion over which publishers may place newsracks on public property and where.

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493 U.S. 215 (1990) FW/PBS, INC., DBA PARIS ADULT BOOKSTORE II, ET AL. v. CITY OF DALLAS ET AL.     No. 87-2012. Supreme Court of United States.    Argued October 4, 1989 Decided January 9, 1990[*] CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT*219 John H. Weston argued the cause… Read more

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A Florida state court ordered that antiabortion protestors could not demonstrate within 36 feet of an abortion clinic, make loud noises within earshot of the clinic, display images observable from the clinic, approach patients within 300 feet of the clinic, and demonstrate within 300 feet of the residence of any clinic employee. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the injunction in its entirety. When speech in a public forum is prohibited because of its content, the state must be able to demonstrate that the regulation is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental issue. Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. 37 (1983). If the regulation is neutral as to the speaker's content, the regulation need only be a reasonable restriction on the time, place, or manner of the speech. Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781 (1989).

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In 1996, California law was amended to prohibit the release of the addresses of persons arrested if the information would be used for commercial purposes. The same law allowed the release of such information if used for a "scholarly, journalistic, political or governmental purpose" or for "investigative purposes" by a licensed investigator. Both lower courts ruled the law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Laws that burden commercial speech must advance a substantial governmental interest in a direct and material way and be narrowly drawn. Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Comm'n of New York, 447 U.S. 557 (1980). "Neither the First Amendment nor the Fourteenth Amendment mandates a right of access to government information or sources of information within the government's control." Houchins v. KQED, Inc., 438 U.S. 1 (1978).

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541 U.S. 267 (2004) VIETH ET AL. v. JUBELIRER, PRESIDENT OF THE PENNSYLVANIA SENATE, ET AL. No. 02-1580. Supreme Court of United States. Argued December 10, 2003. Decided April 28, 2004. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA *268 *269 *270 SCALIA, J., announced the judgment of the Court… Read more

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Petitioner school district requires each elementary school class to recite daily the Pledge of Allegiance. Respondent Newdow’s daughter participated in this exercise. Newdow, an atheist, filed suit alleging that, because the Pledge contains the words “under God,” it constitutes religious indoctrination of his child in violation of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. He also alleged that he had standing to sue on his own behalf and on behalf of his daughter as “next friend.” The Magistrate Judge concluded that the Pledge was constitutional, and the District Court agreed and dismissed the complaint. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that Newdow had standing as a parent to challenge a practice that interfered with his right to direct his daughter’s religious education, and that the school district’s policy violates the Establishment Clause. Sandra Banning, the child’s mother, then filed a motion to intervene or dismiss, declaring, inter alia, that she had exclusive legal custody under a state-court order and that, as her daughter’s sole legal custodian, she felt it was not in the child’s interest to be a party to Newdow’s suit. Concluding that Banning’s sole legal custody did not deprive Newdow, as a noncustodial parent, of Article III standing to object to unconstitutional government action affecting his child, the Ninth Circuit held that, under California law, Newdow retains the right to expose his child to his particular religious views even if they contradict her mother’s, as well as the right to seek redress for an alleged injury to his own parental interests.

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127 S.Ct. 2553 (2007) Jay F. HEIN, Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, et al., Petitioners, v. FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, INC., et al. No. 06-157. Supreme Court of United States. Argued February 28, 2007. Decided June 25, 2007. *2558 Paul D. Clement, Washington, D.C., for Petitioners. Andrew J. Pincus, for Respondents…. Read more

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