393 U.S. 175 (1968), 6, Carroll v. President and Commissioners of Princess Anne

Docket Nº:No. 6
Citation:393 U.S. 175, 89 S.Ct. 347, 21 L.Ed.2d 325
Party Name:Carroll v. President and Commissioners of Princess Anne
Case Date:November 19, 1968
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 175

393 U.S. 175 (1968)

89 S.Ct. 347, 21 L.Ed.2d 325

Carroll

v.

President and Commissioners of Princess Anne

No. 6

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 19, 1968

Argued October 21, 1968

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND

Syllabus

Petitioners, members of the "white supremacist" National States Rights Party, held a public rally in Princess Anne, Maryland, on August 6, 1966, at which aggressively and militantly racist speeches were made to a crowd of both whites and Negroes. It was announced that the rally would be resumed the next night, August 7. That day, the respondents, local officials, obtained an ex parte restraining order from the Somerset County Circuit Court, there having been no notice to or informal communication with petitioners. The order restrained petitioners for 10 days from holding rallies "which will tend to disturb and endanger the citizens of the County," and the August 7 rally was not held. After trial 10 days later, the Circuit Court issued another injunction, extending the effect of the earlier order for 10 months. The Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed the 10-day order, but reversed the 10-month order, holding that "the period of time was unreasonable."

Held:

1. The case is not moot. The Maryland Court of Appeals' approval of the 10-day order continues to play a role in the response of local officials to petitioners' efforts to continue their activities in the county. Pp. 178-179.

2. The 10-day restraining order must be set aside because, where the principles guaranteed by the First Amendment and applicable to the States by the Fourteenth are involved, there is no place for such ex parte order, issued without formal or informal notice to petitioners, where no showing is made that it is impossible to serve or notify the opposing parties and to give them an opportunity to participate in an adversary proceeding. Pp. 179-185.

247 Md. 126, 230 A.2d 452, reversed.

Page 176

FORTAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE FORTAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioners are identified with a "white supremacist" organization called the National States Rights Party. They held a public assembly or rally near the courthouse steps in the town of Princess Anne, the county seat of Somerset County, Maryland, in the evening of August 6, 1966. The authorities did not attempt to interfere with the rally. Because of the tense atmosphere which developed as the meeting progressed, about 60 state policemen were brought in, including some from a nearby county. They were held in readiness, but, for tactical reasons, only a few were in evidence at the scene of the rally.

Petitioners' speeches, amplified by a public address system so that they could be heard for several blocks, were aggressively and militantly racist. Their target was primarily Negroes and, secondarily, Jews. It is sufficient to observe, with the court below, that the speakers engaged in deliberately derogatory, insulting, and threatening language, scarcely disguised by protestations of peaceful purposes, and that listeners might well have construed their words as both a provocation to the Negroes in the crowd and an incitement to the whites. The rally continued for something more than an hour, concluding at about 8:25 p.m. The crowd listening to the speeches increased from about 50 at the beginning to about 150, of whom 25% were Negroes.

In the course of the proceedings, it was announced that the rally would be resumed the following night, August 7.1

Page 177

On that day, the respondents, officials of Princess Anne and of Somerset County, applied for and obtained a restraining order from the Circuit Court for Somerset County. The proceedings were ex parte, no notice being given to petitioners and, so far as appears, no effort being made informally to communicate with them, although this is expressly contemplated under Maryland procedure.2 The order restrained petitioners for 10 days from holding rallies or meetings in the county "which will tend to disturb and endanger the citizens of the County."3 As a result, the rally scheduled for August 7 was not held. After the trial which took place 10 days later, an injunction was issued by the Circuit Court on August 30, in effect extending the restraint for 10 additional months. The court had before it, in addition to the testimony of [89 S.Ct. 350] witnesses, tape recordings made by the police of the August 6 rally.

On appeal, the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed the 10-day order, but reversed the 10-month order on the ground that

the period of time was unreasonable, and that it was arbitrary to assume that a clear and present

Page 178

danger of civil disturbance and riot would persist for ten months.

Petitioners sought review by this Court, under 28 U.S.C. § 1257(3), asserting that the case is not moot and that the decision of the Maryland Court of Appeals continues to have an adverse effect upon petitioners' rights. We granted certiorari.

We agree with petitioners that the case is not moot. Since 1966, petitioners have sought to continue their activities, including the holding of rallies in Princess Anne and Somerset County, and it appears that the decision of the Maryland Court of Appeals continues to play a substantial role in the response of officials to their activities.4 In these circumstances, our jurisdiction is not at an end.

This is the teaching of Bus Employees v. Missouri, 374 U.S. 74 (1963), which concerned a labor dispute which had led to state seizure of the business. This Court held that, although the seizure had been terminated, the case was not moot, because

the labor dispute [which gave rise to the seizure] remains unresolved. There thus exists . . . not...

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