Jamison v. State of Texas

Citation63 S.Ct. 669,318 U.S. 413,87 L.Ed. 869
Decision Date08 March 1943
Docket NumberNo. 558,558
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

On Appeal from the Criminal Court of Dallas County, Texas.

Mr. Hayden C. Covington, of Brooklyn, N.Y., for appellant.

Mr. H. P. Kucera, of Dallas, Tex., for appellee.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The appellant, a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, was charged with distributing handbills on the streets of Dallas, Texas, in violation of an ordinance of that city which prohibits their distribution. She was convicted in the Corporation Court of Dallas, and appealed to the County Criminal Court where, after a trial de novo, she was again convicted and a fine of $5.00 and costs was imposed. Under Texas law she could appeal to no higher state court, 1 and since she properly raised federal questions of substance in both courts, the case is rightfully here on appeal under Section 237(a) of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C.A. § 344(a). King Manufacturing Co. v. Augusta, 277 U.S. 100, 48 S.Ct. 489, 72 L.Ed. 801. The appellee has asked us to reconsider the doctrine of the King Manufacturing Co. case under which this Court takes jurisdiction on appeal from judgments sustaining the validity of municipal ordinances. We see no reason for reconsidering the King Manufacturing Co. case and follow it here.

We think the judgment below must be reversed because the Dallas ordinance denies to the appellant the freedom of press and of religion guaranteed to her by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Federal Constitution.

The stipulated facts show that the appellant, after three years of special training, had devoted many years to the work of the Jehovah's Witnesses. At the time of her arrest, the appellant was distributing handbills in an orderly and quiet manner to pedestrians whom she met on the street. On one side of the handbill was an invitation to attend a gathering in a Dallas park which was to be one of fifty simultaneous gatherings of Jehovah's Witnesses in as many cities to hear an address by a leader of the group on 'Peace, Can It Last'. The other side of the handbill repeated the invitation and described at the bottom two books which explained the Jehovah's Witnesses' interpretation of the Bible and set out their religious views. This was followed by a statement that the books would be mailed 'Postage Prepaid on your contribution of 25¢'. While the books were not actually sold on the streets, the appellant would have delivered them to the home of any one who made the twenty-five cents contribution. The books would have cost her more than twenty-five cents.

The Dallas ordinance which is set forth in the margin2 has been construed by the state court to forbid the distribution of leaflets by the appellant in the fashion outlined above.3 The city seeks to uphold the ordinance here on the contention (a) that it is justified as an exercise of the city's plenary control of its streets, and (b) that appellant's activity may be forbidden because the leaflects include 'commercial advertising of books which the distributor is offering for sale.'

First. The city contends that its power over its streets is not limited to the making of reasonable regulations for the control of traffic and the maintenance of order, but that it has the power absolutely to prohibit the use of the streets for the communication of ideas. It relies primarily on Davis v. Commonwealth, 167 U.S. 43, 17 S.Ct. 731, 42 L.Ed. 71. This same argu- ment made in reliance upon the same decision has been directly rejected by this Court. Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U.S. 496, 514—516, 59 S.Ct. 954, 963, 964, 83 L.Ed. 1423. Of course, states may provide the control of travel on their streets in order to insure the safety and convenience of the traveling public. Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569, 574, 61 S.Ct. 762, 765, 85 L.Ed. 1049, 133 A.L.R. 1396. They may punish conduct on the streets which is in violation of a valid law. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 62 S.Ct. 766, 86 L.Ed. 1031. But one who is rightfully on a street which the state has left open to the public carries with him there as elsewhere the constitutional right to express his views in an orderly fashion. This right extends to the communication of ideas by handbills and literature as well as by the spoken word. Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization, supra; Schneider v. Irvington, 308 U.S. 147, 162, 60 S.Ct. 146, 151, 84 L.Ed. 155. Here, the ordinance as construed and applied prohibits the dissemination of information by handbills. As such, it cannot be sustained.

Second. The right to distribute handbills concerning religious subjects on the streets may not be prohibited at all times, at all places, and under all circumstances. This has been beyond controversy since the decision in Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, 58...

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220 cases
  • Mandel v. Municipal Court for Oakland-Piedmont Judicial Dist., Alameda County
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 8, 1969
    ...and economic matters, and other subjects of public concern, through handbills, leaflets and pamphlets. In Jamison v. Texas (1943) 318 U.S. 413, 63 S.Ct. 669, 87 L.Ed. 869, the court ruled, '* * * one who is rightfully on a street which the state has left open to the public carries with him ......
  • Kay, In re
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 30, 1970
    ...... convictions violated the guarantees of free speech and due process of law in the federal and state Constitutions. We issued an order to show cause, and ordered petitioners released on their own ...Texas (1943) 318 U.S. 418, 63 S.Ct. 667, 87 L.Ed. 873 (distribution of handbills without permission of yor, $100 fine, conviction reversed); Jamison v. Texas (1943) 318 . Page 697 . U.S. 413, 63 S.Ct. 669, 87 L.Ed. 869 (violation of ban on ......
  • Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Appeals
    • November 2, 1965
    ...155 (1939); Carlson v. People of State of California, 310 U.S. 106, 60 S.Ct. 746, 84 L.Ed. 1104 (1940); Jamison v. State of Texas, 318 U.S. 413, 63 S.Ct. 669, 87 L.Ed. 869 (1943); Largent v. State of Texas, 318 U.S. 418, 63 S.Ct. 667, 87 L.Ed. 873 (1943); Jones v. City of Opelika, 319 U.S. ......
  • 46 South 52nd St. Corp. v. Manlin
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 18, 1960
    ...... the fundamental privileges protected by the Fourteenth. Amendment from invasion by State Courts: Lovell v. City. of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, 58 S.Ct. 666, 82 L.Ed. 949,. and Marsh v. ...501, 66 S.Ct. 276, 90 L.Ed. 265, or upon sidewalks owned by the municipality. Jamison. v. State of Texas, 1943, 318 U.S. 413, 63 S.Ct. 669, 87. L.Ed. 869. The Supreme Court of the ......
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8 books & journal articles
  • Do Not Knock? Lovell to Watchtower and Back Again
    • United States
    • Capital University Law Review No. 38-3, May 2010
    • May 1, 2010
    ...support this theory include: Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516 (1945), Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943), and Jamison v. Texas, 318 U.S. 413 (1943). 114 Schaumburg, 444 U.S. at 632. 115 Id. at 633. 116 See id. at 635. 550 CAPITAL UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [38:535 is not to provide mone......
  • Constitutional conversations and new religious movements: a comparative case study.
    • United States
    • Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law Vol. 38 No. 3, May 2005
    • May 1, 2005
    ...U.S. at 269-70; Martin v. City of Struthers, 319 U.S. 141, 141-42 (1943); Largent v. Texas, 318 U.S. 418, 418-20 (1943); Jamison v. Texas, 318 U.S. 413, 415 (1943); Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 148 (1939); Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, 447-48 (32.) See, e.g., Follet v. McCor......
  • The Supreme Court as Protector of Civil Rights: Freedom of Expression
    • United States
    • ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, The No. 275-1, May 1951
    • May 1, 1951
    ...firsthaving secured the card was set asideon the ground that since freedom ofspeech has a preferred constitutional41 Jamison v. Texas, 318 U. S. 413 (1943);Largent v. Texas, 318 U. S. 418 (1943).42 Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U. S. 444(1938) ; Schneider v. Irvington, 308 U. S. 147(1939) ......
    • United States
    • Michigan Law Review Vol. 119 No. 1, October 2020
    • October 1, 2020
    ...to First Amendment protection because it "expressed opinion, recited grievances, [and] protested claimed abuses"); Jamison v. Texas, 318 U.S. 413, 417 (1943) ("[The state] may not prohibit the distribution of handbills in the pursuit of a clearly religious activity merely because the handbi......
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