Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization

Decision Date26 January 1939
Docket NumberNo. 6939.,6939.
Citation101 F.2d 774
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit



James A. Hamill, of Jersey City, N. J., John A. Matthews, of Newark, N. J., and Charles Hershenstein and Edward J. O'Mara, both of Jersey City, N. J., for appellants.

Spaulding Frazer, of Newark, N. J. (Spaulding Frazer and David Stoffer, both of Newark, N. J., Lee Pressman, Morris L. Ernst, Benjamin Kaplan, and Harriet F. Pilpel, all of New York City, of counsel), for appellees.

Douglas Arant, of Birmingham, Ala., Zechariah Chafee, Jr., Grenville Clark, of New York City, Chairman, Osmer C. Fitts, of Ludlow, Vt., George I. Haight, of Chicago, Ill., Monte M. Lemann, of New Orleans, La., John Francis Neylan, of San Francisco, Cal., and Joseph A. Padway, of Milwaukee, Wis., amici curiae.

Before DAVIS, BIGGS, and MARIS, Circuit Judges.

BIGGS, Circuit Judge.

The question presented by the appeal at bar is whether or not certain fundamental civil liberties safeguarded by the Constitution of the United States shall be observed and protected in Jersey City or shall there stand abridged.

The appellants, the defendants below, are the Mayor of Jersey City, the Director of Public Safety, the Chief of Police, and the Board of Commissioners of Jersey City. The appellees, the plaintiffs below, are the Committee for Industrial Organization, labor organizations affiliated with the CIO, individual representatives of such organizations, and the American Civil Liberties Union, a membership corporation.

The Nature of the Proceedings.

The bill of complaint alleges that the appellants have denied the appellees the right to hold lawful meetings within the territorial limits of Jersey City allegedly upon the authority of an ordinance adopted April 15, 1930. It is further alleged that this denial was pursuant to a plan and conspiracy entered into by the appellants as public authorities of Jersey City to forbid all meetings organized by the appellees for the purposes of carrying on and discussing the work of the CIO and that to effect such ends the appellants exercised unlawful restraints upon the appellees and persons acting in sympathy with them. It is also alleged that the apellants denied the appellees and those acting in sympathy with them the right to disseminate information concerning the CIO by handbills or circulars and that this denial allegedly was pursuant to the authority of another ordinance of Jersey City passed upon January 22, 1924. It is also alleged that the appellants refused to permit picketing, excluded and deported agents of the appellees and persons acting in sympathy with them from the territorial limits of Jersey City, conducted searches and seizures without warrant or probable cause and generally harassed and molested the appellees and their agents in disregard of their constitutional rights. The bill of complaint prayed for injunctive relief. The appellants filed an answer in substance denying the charges made by the appellees, and setting up as a defense that the appellees, their sympathizers and agents invaded Jersey City to cause and create confusion and riot and to intimidate the police. At the trial, which consumed many days, voluminous testimony was taken which we will briefly summarize.

The Evidence.

It appears that in November, 1937, the appellee William J. Carney, regional director of the CIO in New Jersey, prepared to inaugurate a drive for CIO membership in Jersey City. Learning of this fact, upon November 23, 1937, the Newark Evening News published an article headed, "CIO Prepared for Invasion — Mass Drive by 3,000 to be Launched Monday in Jersey City." The article went on to set forth certain statements alleged to have been made by Carney to the effect that there would now be a "show down" between the CIO and Mayor Hague. Carney was also reported to have said, "We will go to Jersey City to organize in a peaceful manner. Whether this will be possible in the face of denials of civil rights in that city I am unable to say at this time." Articles of similar tenor appeared about this time in other newspapers in and about Jersey City.

The record also shows that about 6 o'clock upon the morning of November 29, 1937, a number of persons, CIO members or sympathizers, gathered or attempted to gather at the CIO headquarters at No. 76 Montgomery Street, Jersey City. We use the phrase attempted to gather because the police were present about the headquarters in force, engaged in searching individuals and confiscating circulars and handbills relating to CIO union activities. A substantial number of these individuals were deported from Jersey City by the police by placing them upon ferry boats bound for New York City or by conducting them in motor vehicles beyond the territorial limits of Jersey City. A small number of individuals were arrested and a few were tried before a city magistrate who sentenced each defendant to five days' imprisonment for the offense of illegally distributing the circulars referred to. There is evidence that the police held CIO sympathizers for a time within the CIO headquarters, searching individuals as they went out through the door into the street, and thereafter entered the premises and made further searches and some seizures of the offending handbills.

The evidence is not entirely clear as to how many persons came to Jersey City or were in Jersey City attempting to take part in CIO activities upon the morning of November 29th, but an examination of it indicates that the total number of these persons did not exceed a hundred, and their activities did not constitute an invasion within any accepted meaning of that word. What they had planned to accomplish presented no serious threat to the peace and good order of Jersey City. Upon the other hand the police of Jersey City sought to disorganize the forces of the CIO rather than to proceed in a manner calculated to preserve the civil rights of individuals. As we have stated, there were but few arrests and fewer trials. The conduct of the police upon this occasion was in gross violation of the civil rights of the persons concerned.

Within a comparatively short time thereafter the appellee American Civil Liberties Union attempted to secure a permit from the Director of Public Safety of Jersey City to hold an open air meeting in the City of Jersey City for the purpose of addressing the public upon the subject of civil liberties. The speakers were to be three members of Congress and a member of the bar of New York. At about this time also the CIO made an application for a permit for an outdoor meeting for the purpose of petitioning the Board of Commissioners of Jersey City to modify the ordinance prohibiting the distribution of circulars and to take action in respect to the alleged intimidation of owners of halls by certain officers of Jersey City. Certain persons were named as the speakers, including a member of Congress, CIO organizers, Roger N. Baldwin, and others. Permits to hold these meetings were refused by the Director of Public Safety of Jersey City upon the ground that the meetings would lead to riots and disorder. A permit to speak was also refused to Norman Thomas, a former socialist candidate for President of the United States. A permit for a meeting was also refused to the American Whig Cliosophic Society of Princeton University, which desired to hold a public meeting in Jersey City at which Senator William E. Borah was to be the speaker. This permit was also denied upon the ground "that the said meeting would tend to create disturbance and disorderly assemblage." William M. Callahan, managing editor of "The Catholic Worker," was not granted a permit for a meeting though he stated that its purpose was to explain the Papal Encyclicals.

Protests in respect to the holding of CIO meetings were made to the Mayor and to the Department of Public Safety by organizations in and about Jersey City. These included protests of the Jersey City Chamber of Commerce, the Association of the Sons of Poland, the Catholic War Veterans, the Jersey City Lions Club, the Jersey City Real Estate Board, the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Italian War Veterans. There is evidence that Mayor Hague and his associates inspired at least some of these protests. The evidence is uncontrovertible that he was the spearhead of the movement to keep the appellee labor groups out of Jersey City. For example, a very large mass meeting of veterans' organizations was held at the Jersey City Armory and was addressed by Mayor Hague and other persons. The record indicates that the calling together of these organizations was done upon the instructions of Mayor Hague and that he himself actively collaborated in procuring the record attendance at the armory. At least one threat of violence was voiced against the CIO and its sympathizers. Mayor Hague, however, in testifying in the court below, made plain his belief that this threat was simply one by an overzealous individual and there was no real danger of physical violence from the veterans' organizations. This mass meeting voiced its approval of the stand of the appellants in respect to the CIO and its sympathizers and protested against CIO speakers being allowed to address meetings in Jersey City.

The protests are important in that they serve as the basis expressed by the appellants for their refusal to grant permits for public meetings to the CIO and its sympathizers. While permits were refused to these persons by the Director of Public Safety, other groups whose views were not at variance with the opinions of the majority of the inhabitants of Jersey City received permits freely or the requirement of a permit was waived. It should be noted also that throughout this period of protesting mass meetings, the conduct of the police in respect to the appellees was similar to their conduct...

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