Bates v. City of Little Rock
Argued November 18, 1959
Decided February 23, 1960
361 U.S. 516
Petitioners, custodians of the facts of nearby branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have been attempted, convicted and fined for violating same occupational license tax ordinances of two Arkansas cities by means of refusing to grant the town officials with lists of the names of the members of the local branches of the Association.
Held: On the file in this situation, obligatory disclosure of the club lists could paintings unjustified interference with the individuals freedom of affiliation, which is blanketed through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by means of the States; and the convictions are reversed. Pp. 361 U. S. 517-527.
(a) It is now beyond dispute that freedom of affiliation for the reason of advancing ideas and airing grievances is protected with the aid of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by means of the States. Pp. 361 U. S. 522-523.
(b) On the document in this situation, it sufficiently seems that obligatory disclosure of the membership lists of the nearby branches of the Association might work a substantial interference with the freedom of affiliation in their contributors. Pp. 361 U. S. 523-524.
(c) The towns right here, as instrumentalities of the State, have now not demonstrated so cogent an hobby in acquiring and making public the club lists of those groups as to justify the large abridgment of associational freedom which such disclosures might impact, because the file discloses no relevant correlation between the energy of the municipalities to impose occupational license taxes and the compulsory disclosure and guide of these membership lists. Pp. 361 U. S. 524-527.
229 Ark. 819, 319 S.W.2d 37, reversed.
Page 361 U. S. 517
CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ARKANSAS
Petitioners, custodians of the information of neighborhood branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have been attempted, convicted and fined for violating same occupational license tax ordinances of Arkansas cities by means of refusing to provide the metropolis officials with lists of the names of the members of the neighborhood branches of the Association.
Held: On the file in this case, compulsory disclosure of the membership lists would work unjustified interference with the members freedom of association, that is covered by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by using the States; and the convictions are reversed. Pp. 361 U. S. 517-527.
(a) It is now beyond dispute that freedom of association for the cause of advancing ideas and airing grievances is blanketed by way of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by way of the States. Pp. 361 U. S. 522-523.
(b) On the report in this case, it sufficiently appears that obligatory disclosure of the club lists of the neighborhood branches of the Association would paintings a considerable interference with the liberty of association of their contributors. Pp. 361 U. S. 523-524.
(c) The cities here, as instrumentalities of the State, have no longer proven so cogent an hobby in obtaining and making public the membership lists of these agencies as to justify the sizeable abridgment of associational freedom which such disclosures would impact, because the file discloses no relevant correlation among the strength of the municipalities to impose occupational license taxes and the compulsory disclosure and e-book of these membership lists. Pp. 361 U. S. 524-527.
MR. JUSTICE STEWART brought the opinion of the Court.
Each of the petitioners has been convicted of violating an identical ordinance of an Arkansas municipality via refusing a call for to provide metropolis officials with a listing of the names of the participants of a neighborhood department of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The question for choice is whether these convictions can stand beneath the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to america Constitution.
Municipalities in Arkansas are authorized by way of the State to levy a license tax on any character, organization, man or woman, or organization engaging in any "alternate, commercial enterprise, career, vocation or calling" within their corporate limits. [Footnote 1] Pursuant to this authority, the City of Little Rock and the City of North Little Rock have for a few years imposed annual license taxes on a wide variety of groups, occupations, and professions. [Footnote 2] Charitable corporations which have interaction inside the sports affected are relieved from paying the taxes.
In 1957, the two towns added same amendments to their occupation license tax ordinances. These amendments require that any organisation running inside the municipality in question must deliver to the City Clerk,
Page 361 U. S. 518
upon request and within a designated time, (1) the official name of the organization; (2) its headquarters or regular meeting place; (3) the names of the officers, retailers, servants, personnel, or representatives, and their salaries; (4) the motive of the company; (five) a statement as to dues, checks, and contributions paid, by means of whom and whilst paid, together with a announcement reflecting the disposition of the funds and the entire internet profits; (6) an affidavit stating whether the organization is subordinate to a figure agency, and in that case, the latter s name. The ordinances expressly provide that all statistics furnished will be public and situation to the inspection of any interested party in any respect reasonable enterprise hours. [Footnote three]
Page 361 U. S. 519
Petitioner Bates turned into the custodian of the facts of the local department of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Little Rock, and petitioner Williams was the custodian of the facts of the North Little Rock department. These neighborhood groups provided the 2 municipalities with all of the facts required via the ordinances, except that demanded under § 2E of each ordinance, which would have required disclosure of the names of the corporations members and individuals. Instead of furnishing the special breakdown required by way of this section of the North Little Rock ordinance, the petitioner Williams wrote to the City Clerk as follows:
Page 361 U. S. 520
"E. The financial assertion is as follows:"
January 1, 1957 to December four, 1957
Total receipts from club and
Total prices . . . . . . . . $183.60
(to National Office)
Secretarial help . . . . . . . . . five.00
Stationery, stamps, etc. . . . . . 3.00
On Hand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60.40
"F. I am attaching my affidavit as president indicating that we're a Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a New York Corporation."
"We cannot come up with any statistics with respect to the names and addresses of our participants and contributors or any statistics which may also cause the ascertainment of such facts. We base this refusal on the anti-NAACP weather on this kingdom. It is our proper religion and perception that the general public disclosure of the names of our individuals and members may result in their harassment, monetary reprisals, or even physical damage. Moreover, even other than that opportunity, we have been suggested by way of our suggest, and we achieve this accept as true with, that the metropolis has no right below the Constitution and legal guidelines of the United States, and under the Constitution and laws of the State of Arkansas to demand the names and addresses of our contributors and contributors. We assert on behalf of the employer and its participants the proper to make a contribution to the NAACP and to are looking for below its aegis to perform the pursuits and purposes herein described loose from any restraints or interference from city or state officials. In addition we assert the proper of our
Page 361 U. S. 521
individuals and participants to participate within the activities of the NAACP, anonymously, a right which has been diagnosed because the basic right of every American citizen for the reason that founding of this united states of america. . . ."
A drastically identical written assertion turned into submitted on behalf of the Little Rock department of the Association to the Clerk of that city.
After refusing upon in addition call for to put up the names of the participants of her company, [Footnote four] each petitioner was tried, convicted, and fined for a contravention of the ordinance of her respective municipality. At the Bates trial, evidence turned into supplied to expose that many former members of the local employer had declined to renew their membership because of the existence of the ordinance in query. [Footnote five] Similar evidence became obtained inside the Williams
Page 361 U. S. 522
trial, [Footnote 6] as well as proof that people who have been publicly recognized in the community as individuals of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were subjected to harassment and threats of physical damage. [Footnote 7]
On appeal, the cases have been consolidated within the Supreme Court of Arkansas, and, with justices dissenting, the convictions have been upheld. 229 Ark. 819, 319 S.W.2d 37, forty three. The court docket concluded that obligatory disclosure of the club lists beneath the circumstances turned into "not an unconstitutional invasion of the freedoms assured . . . ," however "a mere incident to a permissible criminal end result." [Footnote 8] Because of the big constitutional query concerned, we granted certiorari. 359 U.S. 988.
Like freedom of speech and a loose press, the proper of peaceful meeting changed into considered by way of the Framers of our Constitution to lie at the foundation of a government
Page 361 U. S. 523
based upon the consent of an informed citizenry -- a government dedicated to the established order of justice and the upkeep of liberty. U.S.Const., Amend. I. And it's miles now past dispute that freedom of association for the reason of advancing thoughts and airing grievances is covered by way of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion with the aid of the States. De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U. S. 353, 299 U. S. 364; NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U. S. 449, 357 U. S. 460.
Freedoms including those are covered no longer best against heavy-surpassed frontal assault, but additionally from being stifled by way of greater diffused governmental interference. Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U. S. 233; Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U. S. a hundred and five; American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 U. S. 382, 339 U. S. 402; NAACP v. Alabama, supra; Smith v. California, 361 U. S. 147;
"It is infrequently a unique notion that pressured disclosure of affiliation with businesses engaged in advocacy may additionally constitute [an] powerful . . . restraint on freedom of association. . . . This Court has diagnosed the critical relationship between freedom to companion and privateness in one s institutions. . . . Inviolability of privacy in organization association can also, in many occasions, be essential to protection of freedom of affiliation, particularly wherein a group espouses dissident ideals."
NAACP v State of Alabama, 357 U.S. at 357 U. S. 462.
On this file, it sufficiently appears that compulsory disclosure of the membership lists of the local branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People could paintings a tremendous interference with the freedom of affiliation in their participants. [Footnote 9] There became
Page 361 U. S. 524
extensive uncontroverted proof that public identity of men and women in the community as individuals of the organizations had been followed with the aid of harassment and threats of physical damage. There become additionally evidence that worry of community hostility and monetary reprisals that could comply with public disclosure of the club lists had discouraged new members from becoming a member of the companies and prompted former individuals to withdraw. This repressive effect, even as in component the end result of personal attitudes and pressures, become brought to endure only after the exercising of governmental power had threatened to force disclosure of the contributors names. NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. at 357 U. S. 463. Thus, the chance of enormous government encroachment upon vital and conventional elements of character freedom is neither speculative nor remote.
Decision in this situation ought to subsequently flip, consequently, on whether or not the cities as instrumentalities of the State have proven so cogent an interest in obtaining and making public the membership lists of these corporations as to justify the vast abridgment of associational freedom which such disclosures will impact. Where there's a large encroachment upon private liberty, the State may additionally be triumphant only upon displaying a subordinating interest that's compelling. NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U. S. 449. See additionally Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U. S. 11; Schneider v. New Jersey, 308 U. S. 147; Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U. S. 569, 312 U. S. 574; Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U. S. one hundred and five; Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U. S. 158; Kovacs v. Cooper, 336 U. S. 77.
It cannot be questioned that the governmental cause upon which the municipalities rely is a fundamental one. No power is greater fundamental to the last purpose and characteristic of government than is the energy to tax. See James v. Dravo Contracting Co., 302 U. S. 134, 302 U. S. a hundred and fifty. Nor can or not it's doubted that the proper and green workout of this
Page 361 U. S. 525
essential governmental electricity may additionally from time to time entail the opportunity of encroachment upon individual freedom. See United States v. Kahriger, 345 U. S. 22; Hubbard v. Mellon, 55 App.D.C. 341, 5 F.2nd 764.
It became as an adjunct in their electricity to impose occupational license taxes that the towns enacted the law right here in query. [Footnote 10] But governmental action does now not robotically become moderately associated with the achievement of a legitimate and significant governmental motive through mere assertion inside the preamble of an ordinance. When it is proven that nation action threatens substantially to impinge upon constitutionally protected freedom, it becomes the duty of this Court to decide whether or not the movement bears a reasonable courting to the success of the governmental cause asserted as its justification.
In this record, we are able to find no applicable correlation among the energy of the municipalities to impose occupational license taxes and the obligatory disclosure and book of the membership lists of the nearby branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The career license tax ordinances of the municipalities are squarely geared toward attaining all of the industrial, expert, and business occupations in the groups. The taxes aren't, and, as a count of state regulation, can't be, primarily based on earnings or income, but upon the character of the career or organization carried out.
Inquiry of organizations in the groups as to the purpose and nature of their sports would accordingly appear to be completely relevant to enforcement of the ordinances. Such an inquiry was addressed to those groups and became responded as follows:
"We are an affiliate of a national enterprise looking for to secure for American Negroes their rights as
Page 361 U. S. 526
guaranteed by means of the Constitution of the US. Our purposes may additionally satisfactory be defined by quoting from the Articles of Incorporation of our National Organization wherein those purposes are set forth as:"
" . . . voluntarily to promote equality of rights and get rid of caste or race prejudice among the residents of the USA; to improve the interest of coloured residents; to steady for them independent suffrage; and to growth their possibilities for securing justice within the courts, education for their youngsters, employment consistent with their capacity, and complete equality before the regulation. To ascertain and put up all records bearing upon these subjects and to take any lawful motion thereon; together with any type and all things which might also lawfully be achieved by using a club organization prepared under the legal guidelines of the State of New York for the in addition advancement of these gadgets. "
"The Articles of Incorporation hereinabove cited are on document inside the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Arkansas. In accord with these purposes and goals, [this] . . . Branch, NAACP become chartered and prepared, and we are seeking to effectuate these concepts inside [this municipality]."
The municipalities have no longer counseled that an activity so described, although carried out for earnings, could fall within any of the occupational classifications for which a license is required or a tax payable. On oral argument, suggest for the City of Little Rock became not able to narrate any activity of those agencies to which a license tax might attach. [Footnote eleven] And there is nothing within the report to indicate
Page 361 U. S. 527
that a tax declare has ever been asserted against either employer. If the organizations were to claim the exemption which the ordinance presents to charitable endeavors, facts as to the particular assets and expenditures in their budget might nicely be a subject of relevant inquiry. But there is nothing to reveal that any exemption has ever been sought, claimed, or granted -- and tremendous evidence inside the document to the opposite.
In sum, there may be a entire failure in this document to expose (1) that the groups were engaged in any career for which a license would be required, although the career were conducted for a earnings; (2) that the towns have ever asserted a claim against the agencies for charge of an occupation license tax; (three) that the groups have ever asserted exemption from a tax imposed by way of the municipalities, either due to their alleged nonprofit person or for another cause.
We finish that the municipalities have failed to demonstrate a controlling justification for the deterrence of free association which obligatory disclosure of the membership lists could purpose. The petitioners cannot be punished for refusing to produce data which the municipalities couldn't constitutionally require. The judgments cannot stand.
Ark.Stat. 1947, § 19-4601.
Little Rock Ord. No. 7444. North Little Rock Ord. No. 1786. These ordinances have been amended severa instances by adding various corporations, occupations and professions to be licensed, and by way of changing the costs of the taxes imposed.
The pertinent provisions of the ordinances are as follows:
"Whereas, it has been located and determined that certain groups within the City . . . were claiming immunity from the phrases of [the ordinance], governing the payment of profession licenses levied for the privilege of doing enterprise within the city, upon the premise that such companies are benevolent, charitable, mutual benefit, fraternal or nonprofit, and"
"Whereas, many such corporations claiming the profession license exemption are mere subterfuges for corporations being operated for profit which can be issue to the profession license ordinance;"
"Now, Therefore, Be It Ordained by way of the City Council of the City . . . :"
"Section 1. The phrase corporation as used herein means any group of individuals, whether or not integrated or unincorporated."
"Section 2. Any business enterprise operating or functioning in the City . . . which includes but no longer restricted to civic, fraternal, political, mutual advantage, felony, medical, exchange, or other corporation, upon the request of the Mayor, Alderman, has membership of the Board of Directors, City Clerk, City Collector, or City Lawyer, shall list with the City Clerk the following records inside 15 days after such request is submitted:"
"A. The legitimate call of the company."
"B. The office, place of work, headquarters or typical meeting area of such employer."
"C. The officers, marketers, servants, employees or representatives of such organisation, and the salaries paid to them."
"D. The motive or functions of such corporation."
"E. A financial declaration of such company, including dues, charges, checks and/or contributions paid, by means of whom paid, and the date thereof, collectively with the assertion reflecting the disposition of such sums, to whom and while paid, collectively with the whole internet earnings of such company."
"F. An affidavit by way of the president or other officiating officer of the enterprise mentioning whether the employer is subordinate to a discern enterprise, and if so, the call of the determine corporation."
"Section 3. This ordinance will be cumulative to other ordinances heretofore surpassed by using the City close to profession licenses and the collection thereof."
"Section 4. All facts obtained pursuant to this ordinance shall be deemed public and subject to the inspection of any involved birthday celebration in any respect affordable enterprise hours."
"Section 5. Any phase or part of this ordinance declared to be unconstitutional or void shall now not affect the remaining sections of the ordinance, and to this give up the sections or subsections hereof are declared to be severable."
"Section 6. Any individual or corporation who shall violate the provisions of this ordinance shall be deemed responsible of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined. . . ."
Section 2E of the ordinances does now not explicitly require submission of membership lists, but, as a substitute, of "dues . . . and/or contributions paid, by whom paid. . . ." That the effect of this language became to require submission of the names of all individuals changed into made clean inside the supplemental request made by way of the City Clerk of North Little Rock to the petitioner Williams:
"At a normal assembly of the North Little Rock City Council held in the Council Chamber on December 9, 1957, I turned into advised to request a listing of the names and addresses of all of the officials and contributors of the North Little Rock Branch of the NAACP."
"This portion of the questionnaire spoke back by you on December four, 1957 did not supply this records. The above statistics must be obtained now not later than December 18, 1957, as asked within the authentic questionnaire received with the aid of you on December three, 1957."
(In truth, the names of all the officers of the North Little Rock department had already been submitted according with § 2C of the ordinance.)
For instance, petitioner Bates testified:
"Well, I will say it like this -- for the beyond five years, I had been collecting, I bet, one hundred fifty to two hundred individuals each year -- simply renewals of the equal humans. This 12 months, I guess I misplaced 100 or 150 of these same members due to the fact when I went lower back for renewals they said, Well, we can wait and see what occurs in the Bennett Ordinance. "
For instance, a witness testified:
"Well, the human beings are afraid to enroll in, afraid to sign up for because the humans -- they don t want their names uncovered and they're afraid their names might be uncovered and they might lose their jobs. They will be intimidated and they are afraid to enroll in. They stated, Well, you will have to wait. I can t do It. They are afraid to provide their -- due to the fact they're afraid somebody, if their names are publicized, then they will lose their jobs or be intimidated or what-not."
For instance, petitioner Williams testified:
"Well, I even have -- we have been now not able to relaxation at night time or day for quite a while. We needed to have our phone range changed because they name that day and night time after which we -- they've observed out the second one smartphone variety, and they did the identical manner, and that they known as me all hours of night over the telephone, and then I needed to get a new range and that they were trying to find out that one, of route. I would tell them who's speakme, and they have throwed stones at my home. They wrote me -- I got a -- I acquired a letter threatening my existence, and that they threaten my lifestyles over the cellphone. That is the way."
The Arkansas Supreme Court construed § 2E of the ordinances as requiring disclosure "of the membership listing." 229 Ark. at ___, 319 S.W.2d at page 41.
The towns do no longer task petitioners proper to elevate any objections or defenses to be had to their groups, nor do the cities project the proper of the groups in these circumstances to say the character rights of their participants. Cf. NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U. S. 449, at 357 U. S. 458-459.
See be aware three supra.
A "seize-all" provision of the Little Rock ordinance imposes an annual tax upon
"[a]the big apple individual, company, or corporation within the City . . . engaging in the business of promoting any and all kinds of items, wares, and merchandise, whether or not raw materials or finished products, or both, from a regularly hooked up place of job maintained within the City. . . ."
The tax is measured through "the gross price of the average stock stock for the preceding yr," with a minimum of $25. It was conceded on oral argument via recommend for the City of Little Rock that this provision become inapplicable. No quick turned into filed nor oral argument made on behalf of the City of North Little Rock.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK and MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, concurring.
We concur inside the judgment and appreciably with the opinion due to the fact we assume the facts show that the ordinances, as here implemented, violate freedom of speech and
Page 361 U. S. 528
meeting assured through the First Amendment which this Court has in many instances held changed into made applicable to the States by means of the Fourteenth Amendment, as, for example, in Jones v. Opelika, 316 U. S. 584, at 316 U. S. 600, dissenting opinion adopted by means of the Court in 319 U. S. 319 U.S. 103; Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U. S. a hundred and five, at 319 U. S. 108; Kingsley Intern. Pictures Corp. v. Regents, 360 U. S. 684. And see instances stated in Speiser v. Randall, 357 U. S. 513, 357 U. S. 529, at 357 U. S. 530 (concurring opinion).
Moreover, we accept as true with, as we indicated in United States v. Rumely, 345 U. S. forty one, 345 U. S. 48, at 345 U. S. 56 (concurring opinion), that First Amendment rights are past abridgment either via legislation that immediately restrains their exercising or by suppression or impairment via harassment, humiliation, or publicity via authorities. One of those rights, freedom of meeting, consists of of path freedom of affiliation; and it is entitled to no much less protection than any other First Amendment right, as NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U. S. 449, at 357 U. S. 460, and De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U. S. 353, at 299 U. S. 363, maintain. These are ideas relevant to every person under our Constitution irrespective of their race, color, politics, or religion. That is, for us, the essence of the existing opinion of the Court.
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