308 U.S. 147 (1939), 11, Schneider v. State of New Jersey (Town of Irvington)

Docket Nº:11, 13, 18, 29.
Citation:308 U.S. 147, 60 S.Ct. 146, 84 L.Ed. 155
Opinion Judge:Mr. ROBERTS, Justice.
Party Name:SCHNEIDER v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY (TOWN OF IRVINGTON). YOUNG v. PEOPLE OF STATE OF CALIFORNIA. SNYDER v. CITY OF MILWAUKEE. NICHOLS et al. v. COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS.
Attorney:Messrs. Joseph F. Rutherford and Olin R. Moyle both of Brooklyn, N.Y., for petitioner. Mr. Robert I. Morris, of Newark, N.J., for respondent. Messrs. Osmond K. Fraenkel, of New York City, and A. L. Wirin, of Los Angeles, Cal., for appellant. Messrs. Frederick von Schrader, Ray L. Chesebro, Leon T...
Judge Panel:Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS, dissenting. Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS
Case Date:November 22, 1939
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 147

308 U.S. 147 (1939)

60 S.Ct. 146, 84 L.Ed. 155

SCHNEIDER

v.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY (TOWN OF IRVINGTON).

YOUNG

v.

PEOPLE OF STATE OF CALIFORNIA.

SNYDER

v.

CITY OF MILWAUKEE.

NICHOLS et al.

v.

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS.

Nos. 11, 13, 18, 29.

United States Supreme Court

November 22, 1939

Argued and Submitted Oct. 13-16, 1939.

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Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS, dissenting.

On Writ of Certiorari to the Court of Errors and Appeals of the State of New Jersey.

On Appeal from the Appellate Department of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California.

On Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin.

On Appeal from the Superior Court, County of Worcester, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Clara Schneider was convicted of canvassing without a permit as required by an ordinance of the Town of Irvington, New Jersey, and she brings certiorari to review a judgment of the Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey, 121 N.J.L. 542, 3 A.2d 609, affirming a judgment of the Supreme Court, 120 N.J.L. 460, 200 A. 799, affirming the conviction.

Kim Young was convicted of violating section 28.01 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code prohibiting the distribution of handbills, and from a judgment of the Appellate Department, Superior Court, Los Angeles County, California, affirming the conviction, 85 P.2d 231, he appeals.

Harold F. Snyder was convicted of violating an ordinance of the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, prohibiting the circulation or distribution of circulars and handbills, and to review a judgment of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirming the judgment of conviction, 230 Wis. 131, 283 N.W. 301, he brings certiorari.

Elmira Nichols and Pauline Thompson were convicted of violating an ordinance of the City of Worcester, Massachusetts, prohibiting the distribution of handbills or similar papers, and they appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts overruling their exceptions, 18 N.E.2d 166.

Judgment in each case reversed and causes remanded for further proceedings.

[60 S.Ct. 147] No. 11:

Messrs.

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Joseph F. Rutherford and Olin R. Moyle both of Brooklyn, N.Y., for petitioner.

Mr. Robert I. Morris, of Newark, N.J., for respondent.

No. 13:

Messrs. Osmond K. Fraenkel, of New York City, and A. L. Wirin, of Los Angeles, Cal., for appellant.

Messrs. Frederick von Schrader, Ray L. Chesebro, Leon T. David, and Bourke Jones, all of Los Angeles, Cal., for appellee.

No. 18:

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Mr. A. W. Richter, of Milwaukee, Wis., for petitioner.

Mr. Carl F. Zeidler, of Milwaukee, Wis., for respondent.

No. 29:

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Messrs. Sidney S. Grant, of Boston, Mass., and Osmond K. Fraenkel, of New York City, for appellants.

Messrs. Edward O. Proctor and Paul A. Dever, both of Boston, Mass., for appellee.

OPINION

Mr. ROBERTS, Justice.

Four cases are here, each of which presents the question whether regulations embodied in a municipal ordinance

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abridge the freedom of speech and of the press secured against state invasion by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, U.S.C.A.1

[60 S.Ct. 148] No. 13.

The Municipal Code of the City of Los Angeles, 1936, provides:

‘ Sec. 28.00. ‘ Hand-Bill’ shall mean any hand-bill, dodger, commercial advertising circular, folder, booklet, letter, card, pamphlet, sheet, poster, sticker, banner, notice or other written, printed or painted matter calculated to attract attention of the public.'

‘ Sec. 2801. No person shall distribute any hand-bill to or among pedestrians along or upon any street, sidewalk or park, or to passengers on any street car, or throw, place or attach any hand-bill in, to or upon any automobile or other vehicle.’

The appellant was charged in the Municipal Court with a violation of Sec. 28.01. Upon his trial it ws proved that he distributed handbills to pedestrians on a public sidewalk and had more than three hundred in his possession for that purpose. Judgment of conviction was entered and sentence imposed. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County affirmed the judgment. 2 That court being the highest court in the State authorized to pass upon such a case, an appeal to this court was allowed.

The handbill which the appellant was distributing bore a notice of a meeting to be held under the auspices of ‘ Friends Lincoln Brigade’ at which speakers would discuss the war in Spain.

The court below sustained the validity of the ordinance on the ground that experience shows littering of the

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streets results from the indiscriminate distribution of handbills.3 It held that the right of free expression is not absolute but subject to reasonable regulation and that the ordinance does not transgress the bounds of reasonableness. Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, 58 S.Ct. 666, 82 L.Ed. 949, was distinguished on the ground that the ordinance there in question prohibited distribution anywhere within the city while the one involved forbids distribution in a very limited number of places.

No. 18.

An ordinance of the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, provides: ‘ It is hereby made unlawful for any person * * * to * * * throw * * * paper * * * or to circulate or distribute any circular, hand-bills, cards, posters, dodgers, or other printed or advertising matter * * * in or upon any sidewalk, street, alley, wharf, boat landing, dock or ther public place, park or ground within the City of Milwaukee.’

The petitioner, who was acting as a picket, stood in the street in front of a meat market and distributed to passing pedestrians hand-bills which pertained to a labor dispute with the meat market, set forth the position of organized labor with respect to the market, and asked citizens to refrain from patronizing it. Some of the bills were thrown in the street by the persons to whom they were given and it resulted that many of the papers lay in the gutter and in the street. The police officers who arrested the petitioner and charged him with a violation

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of the ordinance did not arrest any of those who received the bills and threw them away. The testimony was that the action of the officers accorded with a policy of the police department in enforcement of the ordinance to the effect that, when such distribution resulted in littering of the streets, the one who was the cause of the littering, that is, he who passed out the bills, was arrested rather than those who received them and afterwards threw them away. The Milwaukee County court found the petitioner guilty and fined him. On appeal the judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court. 4

The court held that the purpose of the ordinance was to prevent an unsightly, untidy, and offensive condition of the sidewalks. It distinguished Lovell v. City of Griffin, supra, on the ground that the ordinance there considered manifestly was not aimed at prevention of littering of the streets. The court approved the administrative construction of the ordinance by the...

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