Brewer v. Hoxie School District No. 46

Decision Date25 October 1956
Docket NumberNo. 15510.,15510.
Citation238 F.2d 91
PartiesHerbert BREWER; Amis Guthridge; White America, Inc., a Corporation Organized and Operating Under the Laws of the State of Arkansas; "Citizens Committee Representing Segregation in the Hoxie Schools," an Unincorporated Association; James D. Johnson; Curt Copeland; and "White Citizens Council of Arkansas," an Unincorporated Association, Appellants, v. HOXIE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 46 OF LAWRENCE COUNTY, ARKANSAS, a Body Corporate Under the Laws of the State of Arkansas; L. R. Howell; L. L. Cochran; Howard Vance; Guy Floyd; and Leo Robert, Individually and as Directors of Hoxie School District No. 46 of Lawrence County, Arkansas; and K. E. Vance, Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

M. V. Moody, Little Rock, Ark., and James D. Johnson, Crossett, Ark., submitted brief for appellants.

Eugene Cook, Atty. Gen., of Georgia, and E. Freeman Leverett, Asst. Atty. Gen., of Georgia, submitted brief on behalf of Eugene Cook, as Atty. Gen. of Georgia, amicus curiae.

Bill Penix, Jonesboro, Ark. (James F. Sloan, III, Walnut Ridge, Ark., Edwin E. Dunaway, Little Rock, Ark., and Roy Penix, Jonesboro, Ark., were with him on the brief), for appellees.

Henry Putzel, Jr., Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C. (Warren Olney, III, Asst. Atty. Gen., Arthur B. Caldwell, and Hubert H. Margolies, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., were with him on the brief), for United States as amicus curiae.

Before WOODROUGH, VOGEL and VAN OOSTERHOUT, Circuit Judges.

WOODROUGH, Circuit Judge.

Prior to 1955, the public schools in Hoxie School District No. 46 of Lawrence County, Arkansas, servicing about a thousand white students and twenty four negroes, were operated in accord with the laws of the State prescribing segregation of the white and colored pupils, but on June 5, 1955, following the two decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873 May 17, 1954 and 349 U.S. 294, 75 S.Ct. 753, 99 L.Ed. 1083 May 31, 1955, the school board of directors determined that as the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, interpreted in those decisions, invalidated all state laws imposing segregated public education, the Board was required to desegregate the schools within their jurisdiction as soon as all administrative obstacles could be removed. The Board further determined that under Article VI, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution requiring state officers to bind themselves by oath to support the Constitution which by Article VI, Clause 2 is the supreme law of the land, they had the right and duty to change to a non-discriminatory system without awaiting repeal of the Arkansas segregation statutes.

On June 25, 1955, the Board determined that all legally cognizable obstacles to desegregation had been removed, and resolved to desegregate the schools within its jurisdiction, and on July 11, 1955, the schools were opened without segregation. Such operation of them was effective for several weeks with satisfactory reaction from pupils and the local community, but thereafter attempts to obstruct and prevent the operation of the schools on the integrated basis were systematically planned and set on foot, and the present action was brought by the School District, the members of the School Board and the School Superintendent in the federal district court in Arkansas to obtain restraining order and injunction against such obstruction.1

The defendants named in the complaint are individuals and organizations alleged to have entered into and carried on a conspiracy to obstruct the school board from securing the equal protection of the laws in the operation of the public schools to all persons within the district. It was alleged that defendants in furtherance of their conspiracy claimed and asserted that Arkansas laws required a continuation of segregation and that plaintiff's resolution to desegregate the schools was illegal. That defendants committed numerous acts of trespass upon the school property and acts of annoying, threatening, and intimidating the individual plaintiffs, and made inflammatory speeches at mass meetings condoning physical violence and calling for mass action in resistance to desegregation, and to the same end made threats to boycott the schools and to subject the members of the school board to endless, expensive litigation, and attempted by fear and persuasion to deter the children from attendance at schools of the district. The acts of defendants caused discontinuance of a school session, reduction of school attendance resulting in immediate loss of annual revenue to the school district, and restoration of segregation demanded by defendants would cost an immediate additional expenditure. That the matter in controversy exceeded, exclusive of interest and costs, the sum of $3,000, and that plaintiffs would suffer irreparable injury unless granted injunctive relief.

The plaintiffs asserted jurisdiction in the federal court under Title 28 U.S.C.A. § 1331, and that the action arose under Article VI, Clauses 2 and 3 of the Constitution of the United States; the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution. Jurisdiction was also invoked pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C.A. § 1343 with further allegation that the action also arose under Title 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1983, 1985(2), and 1988, and under Title 18 U.S.C.A. §§ 241 and 242.

A temporary restraining order was issued by Judge Trimble, presiding in the district court, on presentation of the verified complaint supported by affidavits, and thereafter hearing was had on a motion by defendants to dismiss. Judge Trimble denied the motion and accompanied the ruling with written opinion, 135 F.Supp. 296. Thereafter, issues having been joined, plenary trial was had in the district court on the merits before Judge Reeves assigned and judgment was rendered against the defendants and all persons acting in concert with them enjoining them from

"interfering by acts of trespass, boycott or picketing with the free operation of schools within plaintiff\'s jurisdiction; from in any manner deterring the attendance at school of children within said school district and from in any manner threatening or intimidating the individual plaintiffs; from taking any acts of any kind whatsoever which seek to compel by force, intimidation, threats or violence a rescission of the orders heretofore made integrating the public schools of Hoxie."

The judgment was based on meticulously detailed and complete findings of fact which are reported along with the opinion of Judge Reeves at 137 F.Supp. 364.

All of the defendants in the action have joined in this appeal to obtain a reversal of the judgment. They do not assign any specified finding of fact of the trial court as clearly erroneous, though in their statement of the facts set forth in the brief, some differences from the findings are observed.

They contend for reversal that the federal court was without jurisdiction of the action; that the complaint failed to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action; that the evidence was insufficient; and that the injunction granted is violative of the First Amendment of the Constitution in that it abridges freedom of speech and denies the right peaceably to assemble and petition.

The Attorney General of the State of Georgia has filed a brief under leave of the court as amicus curiae seeking reversal of the judgment in accord with the brief of appellants, and the United States, asserting that the issues presented in the case have a nation-wide impact, has filed a brief, with leave of the court, as amicus curiae advocating affirmance of the judgment in accord with the brief of appellees.

In view of the publication in the Federal Supplement of the facts as found by the District Court, we do not repeat them here but refer to the publication. We have carefully compared the findings with the evidence and conclude that each of the findings is supported by substantial evidence and none is clearly erroneous. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 52(a), 28 U.S.C.A.

Turning first to the question of federal jurisdiction, it is the position of the appellees that federal jurisdiction of the case exists under the general provision of the federal law, in that the complaint presents a civil action arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States wherein the amount in controversy exceeds $3,000, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1331,2 and it arises under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution3 implementing the Fourteenth Amendment, and the corollary or related constitutional provision imposing an oath or affirmation upon state officers to support the Constitution.4

Appellees contend that as they are under a constitutional duty to support and obey the Fourteenth Amendment and to accord equal protection of the law in their operation of schools, they have a federal right to be free from wrongful interference with the performance of that duty. They say they rest their claim of a federal constitutional right squarely on the fundamental and pervasive provisions of the Constitution and statutes, and declare that the nubbin of their case against defendants in the federal court is the jurisdiction which stems from the Fourteenth Amendment in conjunction with the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and the cause of action under section 1331 to which they give rise. That the right of the members of the school board to be free from interference with their performance of a duty which the Constitution itself imposes on them derives directly from the Supremacy Clause and the related constitutional provision imposing upon the state officers an oath or affirmation to support the constitution and it is a federal right. The school board is attempting to obey and apply the federal law laid...

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    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • 21 Enero 1958
    ...rights of others. See Barrows v. Jackson, 346 U.S. 249, 257, 73 S.Ct. 1031, 97 L.Ed. 1586. This rule was applied in Brewer v. Hoxie School District, 8 Cir., 238 F.2d 91, 104, where the school board in an Arkansas county brought suit to restrain certain organizations from obstructing the boa......
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  • Death by a thousand cuts: the guarantee clause regulation of state constitutions.
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