251 F.Supp. 333 (N.D.Ga. 1966), Civ. A. 9895, Bond v. Floyd

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 9895
Citation:251 F.Supp. 333
Party Name:Bond v. Floyd
Case Date:February 10, 1966
Court:United States District Courts, 11th Circuit, Northern District of Georgia

Page 333

251 F.Supp. 333 (N.D.Ga. 1966)

Julian BOND, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mrs. Arel Keyes, for themselves jointly and severally, and for all other similarly situated, Plaintiffs,

v.

James 'Sloppy' FLOYD et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 9895.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia

Feb. 10, 1966

Page 334

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 335

Howard Moore, Jr., Morris Brown, Charles Morgan, Jr., Atlanta, Ga., Melvin L. Wulf, New York City, for plaintiffs.

Arthur K. Bolton, Atty. Gen., State of Georgia, Atlanta, Ga., for defendants.

Before TUTTLE and BELL, Circuit Judges, and MORGAN, District Judge.

GRIFFIN B. BELL, Circuit Judge, and MORGAN, District Judge:

Mr. Bond, one of the plaintiffs in this matter and a Negro, was refused his seat as a member of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of Georgia. He was a Representative-elect, having been duly elected by the voters of House District No. 136 for the session of the General Assembly commencing January 10, 1966. This was a special election for a one year term made necessary by the reapportionment decision of this court. Toombs v. Fortson, N.D., Ga., 1965, 241 F.Supp. 65.

On the first day of the session, at which time Mr. Bond and other members of the House were to take the oath of office, Mr. Bond was asked to step aside because of challenges to his qualifications having been filed by seventy-five of the two-hundred-five members of the House. After the other members were sworn, including seven Negro representatives, petitions protesting the seating of Representative-Elect Bond were referred by the Speaker of the House to a special committee designated to hear the contest. This committee, after a hearing, recommended that he not be seated. This recommendation was accepted by the House and he was denied his seat by a vote of one hundred eighty-four to twelve.

Dr. King and Mrs. Keyes, the other plaintiffs, seek along with Mr. Bond to represent the citizens and voters of House District No. 136 as a class, and it is affirmatively alleged that they are Negro citizens of House District No. 136 and that they are registered voters. They allege that there are common questions of law and fact affecting the civil rights of Negroes to vote and to have members of their race represent them in the House of Representatives of the State of Georgia. It is undisputed that Dr. King and Mrs. Keyes are residents of the district, but it is also undisputed that Dr. King is not registered to vote in the district but in the House District No. 132.

The defendants are the Speaker of the House, the Speaker Pro-Tem, several members of the House representing the membership, certain officers of the House, and the Secretary of State of the State of Georgia. Jurisdiction for declaratory and injunctive relief is asserted under 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 1331, 1343(3), 1343(4), and 2201; and 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1971(d), 1983, and 1988. Three-Judge District Court jurisdiction was premised on 28 U.S.C.A. § 2281 by a claim that the provision of the Georgia Constitution which permits the members of the House to judge the qualifications of its members, and House Rule 61 which embodies the same provision are unconstitutionally vague, or were unconstitutionally administered with respect to Mr. Bond.

The additional causes of action set forth in the complaint were refined by briefs into claims that Mr. Bond was barred from membership because he was a Negro; that the action of the House denied him his First Amendment right to free speech; that he was denied procedural due process as guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; that he was denied substantive due process in that there was no rational basis for the action of the House; that the House resolution barring Mr. Bond constituted an ex post facto law and a bill of attainder; and that the House action deprived the residents of the House District No. 136 of a republican form of government, equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the right as Negroes under the Fifteenth Amendment to vote. The prayer is that defendants be enjoined from excluding Mr. Bond from membership in the House.

The defendants, by motion, have denied the jurisdiction of the court. Additionally, in the alternative, they have

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moved to dismiss Dr. King and Mrs. Keyes as plaintiffs. They have also answered the complaint. It was stipulated that a final judgment might be rendered on the pleadings, the stipulated facts and such other evidence as was introduced on the hearing of this matter. We thus proceed to final disposition.

The facts which gave rise to the challenge to Mr. Bond stem from a statement issued on January 6, 1966 by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an organization active in the civil rights field. Mr. Bond is and was Communications Director of this organization. After the statement was issued, Mr. Bond, upon inquiry, advised the news media that he supported the statement in its entirety. He added that he admired the courage of persons who burned their draft cards; that he was a pacifist who was eager and anxious to encourage people not to participate in the war in Viet Nam for any reason that they might choose; and said that as a second class citizen he did not feel that he should be required to support the war in Viet Nam.

The SNCC statement follows in full:

'The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee has a right and a responsibility to dissent with United States foreign policy on an issue when it sees fit. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee now states its opposition to United States; involvement in Viet Nam on these grounds:

'We believe the United States government has been deceptive in its claims of concern for freedom of the Vietnamese people, just as the government has been deceptive in claiming concern for the freedom of colored people in such other countries as the Dominican Republic, the Congo, South Africa, Rhodesia and in the United States itself.

'We, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, have been involved in the black people's struggle for liberation and self-determination in this country for the past five years. Our work, particularly in the South, has taught us that the United States government has never guaranteed the freedom of oppressed citizens, and is not yet truly determined to end the rule of terror and oppression within its own borders.

'We ourselves have often been victims of violence and confinement executed by United States government officials. We recall the numerous persons who have been murdered in the South because of their efforts to secure their civil and human rights, and whose murderers have been allowed to escape penalty for their crimes.

'The murder of Samuel Young in Tuskegee, Ala., is no different than the murder of peasants in Viet Nam, for both Young and the Vietnamese sought, and are seeking, to secure the rights guaranteed them by law. In each case the United States government bears a great part of the responsibility for these deaths.

'Samuel Young was murdered because United States law is not being enforced. Vietnamese are murdered because the United States is pursuing an aggressive policy in violation of international law. The United States is no respecter of persons or law when such persons or laws run counter to its needs and desires.

'We recall the indifference, suspicion and outright hostility with which our reports of violence have been met in the past by government officials.

'We know that for the most part elections in this country, in the North as well as the South, are not free. We have seen that the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act have not yet been implemented with full federal power and sincerity.

'We question, then, the ability and even the desire of the United States government to guarantee free elections abroad. We maintain that our country's cry or 'preserve freedom in the world' is a hypcritical

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mask behind which it squashes liberation movements which are not bound, and refuse to be bound, by the expediencies of United States cold war policies.

'We are in sympathy with, and support, the men in this country who are unwilling to respond to a military draft which would compel them to contribute their lives to United States agression in Viet Nam in the name of the 'freedom' we find so false in this country.

'We recoil with horror at the inconsistency of a supposedly 'free' society where responsibility to freedom is equated with the responsibility to lend oneself to military aggression. We take note of the fact that 16 percent of the draftees from this country are Negroes called on to stifle the liberation of Viet Nam, to preserve a 'democracy' which does not exist for them at home.

'We ask, where is the draft for the freedom fight in the United States?

'We therefore encourage those Americans who prefer to use their energy in building democratic forms within this country. We believe that work in the civil rights movement and with other human relations organizations is a valid alternative to the draft. We urge all Americans to seek this alternative, knowing full well that it may cost them lives-- as painfully as in Viet Nam.'

On the same day a newspaper reporter asked Mr. Bond for his views on the subject of the burning of draft cards. He stated that he would not burn his own but admired the courage of those who did.

During a taped interview with a representative of the media, Mr. Bond, after endorsing the SNCC statement was asked why he endorsed it, and his answer was as follows:

'Why, I endorse it, first, because I like to think of myself as a pacifist and one who opposes that war and any other war and eager and anxious to encourage people not to participate in it for any reason that they choose; and secondly, I agree with this statement because of the reason set forth in it-- because I think it is...

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