Decision Date21 January 1958
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 2435,2436.
Citation159 F. Supp. 503
PartiesNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR the ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, a corporation, N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Incorporated, a corporation, Plaintiffs, v. Kenneth C. PATTY, Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia; T. Gray Haddon, Commonwealth's Attorney for the City of Richmond, Virginia; William J. Carleton, Commonwealth's Attorney for the City of Newport News, Virginia; Linwood B. Tabb, Jr., Commonwealth's Attorney for the City of Norfolk, Virginia; William J. Hassan, Commonwealth's Attorney for Arlington County, Virginia; and Frank N. Watkins, Commonwealth's Attorney for Prince Edward County, Virginia, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia



Robert L. Carter, New York City, and Oliver W. Hill, Richmond, Va., for Nat. Ass'n for the Advancement of Colored People.

Thurgood Marshall, New York City, and Spottswood W. Robinson, III, Richmond, Va., for N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

David J. Mays, Henry T. Wickham, John W. Edmonds, III, Richmond, Va., and Clarence F. Hicks, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendants.

J. Segar Gravatt, Blackstone, Va., for Frank N. Watkins, Commonwealth's Atty. for Prince Edward County.

Before SOPER, Circuit Judge, HUTCHESON, Chief Judge, and HOFFMAN, District Judge.

SOPER, Circuit Judge.

These companion suits were brought by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., corporations of the State of New York, against the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Commonwealth Attorneys for the City of Richmond, the City of Newport News, the City of Norfolk, Arlington County and Prince Edward County, Virginia, to secure a declaratory judgment and an injunction restraining and enjoining the defendants from enforcing or executing Chapters 31, 32, 33, 35 and 361 of the Acts of Assembly of the Commonwealth, all of which were passed at the Extra Session convened between August 27, 1956, and September 29, 1956, and were approved by the Governor of the Commonwealth on September 29, 1956.

The suits are based on the allegation that the statutes are unconstitutional and void, in that they deny to the plaintiffs rights accorded to them by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Jurisdiction is invoked under the civil rights statutes, 42 U.S.C. ?? 1981 and 1983 and 28 U.S.C. ? 1343, under which the district courts have jurisdiction of actions brought to redress the deprivation under color of state law of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution or statutes of the United States providing for equal rights of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States. Jurisdiction is also invoked under 28 U.S.C. ?? 1331 and 1332 wherein jurisdiction is conferred upon the federal courts in all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum of $3,000 exclusive of interest and costs and arises under the Constitution and law of the United States or between citizens of different states. Accordingly, the present three-judge district court was set up under 28 U.S.C. ? 2281 and evidence was taken upon which the following findings of facts are based.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is a nonprofit membership organization which was established in 1909 and incorporated under the laws of the State of New York in 1911. It is licensed to do business as a foreign corporation in the State of Virginia. The purposes of the corporation are set out in the statement of its charter:

"That the principal objects for which the corporation is formed are voluntarily to promote equality of rights and eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interests of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for their children, employment according to their ability, and complete equality before the law.
"To ascertain and publish all facts bearing upon these subjects and to take any lawful action thereon; together with any and all things which may lawfully be done by a membership corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York for the further advancement of these objects."

The activities of the Association cover forty-four states, the District of Columbia and the Territory of Alaska. It is the most important Negro rights organization in the country (see 6 Western Res.L.Rev. 101, 102; 58 Yale L.J. 574, 581), having approximately 1,000 unincorporated branches. A branch consists of a group of persons in a local community who enroll the minimum number of members and upon formal application to the main body are granted a charter. In Virginia, there are eighty-nine active branches. A person becomes a member of a branch upon payment of dues which amount, at a minimum, to $2 per year and may be more at the option of the member, up to the sum of $500 for life membership. The regular dues of $2 per year are divided into two parts, one-half being sent to the national office in New York and one-half retained by the local branch.

In a number of states, including Virginia, the branches are voluntarily grouped into an unincorporated State Conference, the expenses of which are paid jointly by the national organization and the local branches, each contributing 10-cents out of its share of each member's dues. In Virginia, the branches contribute a greater sum for the support of their State Conference.

The principal source of income of the Association and its branches in the several states consists of the membership fees which are solicited in local membership drives. Other income is derived from special fund raising campaigns and individual contributions. In the first eight months of the year the greater number of annual membership drives are conducted. During that period in 1957 the Association enrolled 13,595 members in Virginia. This represents a sharp reversal of the rising trend in membership figures in the same eight-month period in the preceding three years, which showed 13,583 members in 1954, 16,130 in 1955 and 19,436 in 1956. The income of the Association from its Virginia branches during the first eight months of 1957 was $37,470.60 as compared with $43,612.75 for the same period in 1956. The total amount received by the Association from Virginia was $38,469.59 in the first eight months of 1957 as compared with $44,138.71 for the same period in 1956. The total income of the Association from the country as a whole for the year 1956 was $598,612.84 and $425,608.13 for the first eight months of 1957.

At the top of the organizational structure of the national body is the annual convention, which consists of delegates representing the 1,000 branches in the several states. It has the power to establish policies and programs for the ensuing year which are binding upon the Board of Directors and upon the branches of the Association. Each year the convention chooses sixteen members of a Board of forty-eight Directors, each of whom serves for a term of three years. The Board of Directors meets eleven times a year to carry out the policies laid down by the convention. Under the Board an administrative staff is set up, headed by an executive secretary who, representing the Board, presides over the functioning of the local branches and State Conferences throughout the country under the authority of the constitution and by-laws of the national body.

The Virginia State Conference takes the lead of the Association's activities in the state under the administration of a full time salaried executive secretary, by whom the activities of the branches in the state are co-ordinated and local membership and fund raising campaigns are supervised. The State Conference also holds annual conventions attended by delegates from the branches, who elect officers and members of the Board of Directors of the Conference. Through its representatives the State Conference appears before the General Assembly of Virginia and State Commissions in support of or in opposition to measures which in its view advance or retard the status of the Negro in Virginia. It encourages Negroes to comply with the statutes of the state so as to qualify themselves to vote, and it conducts educational programs to acquaint the people of the state with the facts regarding racial segregation and discrimination, and to inform Negroes as to their legal rights and to encourage the assertion of those rights when they are denied. In carrying out this program, the public is informed of the policies and objectives of the Association through public meetings, speeches, press releases, newsletters and other media.

One of the most important activities of the State Conference, perhaps its most important activity, is the contribution it makes to the prosecution of law suits brought by Negroes to secure their constitutional rights. It has been found, through years of experience, that litigation is the most effective means to this end when Negroes are subjected to racial discrimination either by private persons or by public authority. Accordingly, the Virginia State Conference maintains a legal committee or legal staff composed of thirteen colored lawyers located in seven communities scattered over the greater part of the state. The members of the legal staff are elected at the annual convention of the State Conference and they in turn elect a chairman. Ordinarily the legal staff is called into action upon a complaint made to one or more members of the staff by aggrieved parties, but sometimes a grievance is brought directly to the attention of the Executive Secretary of the Conference, and if in his judgment the case presents a genuine grievance involving discrimination on account of...

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24 cases
  • Bradley v. School Board of City of Richmond, Virginia
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • January 10, 1972 and rendered more difficult efforts by blacks to escape segregation by means of individual initiative. See, NAACP v. Patty, D.C., 159 F.Supp. 503 (1958), reversed on other grounds sub nom., Harrison v. NAACP, 360 U.S. 167, 79 S.Ct. 1025, 3 L.Ed.2d 1152 Federal courts in school des......
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    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • September 17, 1963
    ...of champerty and barratry have practically all been declared unconstitutional since that date. Judge Soper in N.A.A.C.P. v. Patty, 159 F.Supp. 503, 511 (D.C.E.D.Va.1958) (a three judge court), reviewed the history of these statutes and others passed at the 1956 extra session, and found that......
  • Gomillion v. Lightfoot
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • September 15, 1959
    ...schools of the state under the Supreme Court's decrees." 360 U.S. 167, 175, 79 S.Ct. 1025, 1030, quoting from N. A. A. C. P. v. Patty, D.C.E. D.Va.1958, 159 F.Supp. 503, 511, 515. The dissenting opinion notes the same findings, 360 U.S. 167, 182, 79 S.Ct. 1033, and refers to Guinn v. United......
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    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Tennessee
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2 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • South Dakota Law Review Vol. 66 No. 3, March 2021
    • March 22, 2021
    ...the phrase clear and present danger was in a declaration by the Virginia General Assembly and appears to be just jargon. NAACP v. Patty, 159 F. Supp. 503, 514 (E.D. Va. 1958), vacated sub nom. Harrison v. NAACP, 360 U.S. 167 (1959). Nonetheless, the Court's summary of the lower court's hold......
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