Barr v. City of Columbia

PETITIONER: Charles F. Barr, et al.
RESPONDENT: City of Columbia
LOCATION: Taylor Street Pharmacy

DOCKET NO.: 9
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 378 US 146 (1964)
ARGUED: Oct 14, 1963 / Oct 15, 1963
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1964
GRANTED: Jun 10, 1963

ADVOCATES:
Constance Baker Motley - for the petitioners
David W. Robinson, II - for the respondent
Jack Greenberg - for the petitioners
John W. Sholenberger - for the respondent
Matthew J. Perry - for the petitioners

Facts of the case

The Taylor Street Pharmacy in Columbia, South Carolina, allowed both black and white customers to buy goods and purchase food, but only the white customers were allowed to sit and eat at the lunch counter. On March 15, 1960, the petitioners, five black college students, sat at the counter and waited to be served. The previous day, the store manager arranged for police officers to be present in case of such a situation. After announcing that he would not serve the students and requesting that they leave, the store manager and one of the officers spoke individually to each petitioner. When they would not leave, the petitioners were arrested and charged criminal trespass and breach of the peace. The Recorder’s Court convicted the petitioners, and the County Court affirmed, as did the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Question

Did the arrests and subsequent convictions of the participants in a lunch counter sit-in violate their Fourteenth Amendment rights?

Media for Barr v. City of Columbia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 14, 1963 (Part 2) in Barr v. City of Columbia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 14, 1963 (Part 1) in Barr v. City of Columbia

Earl Warren:

Number 9, Charles F. Barr et al., Petitioners, versus City of Columbia.

Mr. Perry, you may proceed with your argument.

Matthew J. Perry:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the State of South Carolina.

The case arose in March, 1960 at which time the sit-in movement or the movement which brings these cases before the Court at this time, was perhaps at its highest stage.

One day before this case arose, some of the petitioners in this case went to the Office of the City Manager of the City of Columbia to discuss matters pertaining to the efforts of Negroes to use lunch counter facilities in the City of Columbia and at that conference, the record shows that the City Manager of the City of Columbia advised some of these petitioners, gentlemen, further demonstrations will not be tolerated.

At that particular time, the -- most of the stores, drugstores and other stores which had lunch counters in the City of Columbia followed the policy of excluding Negroes or of segregating them therein.

A few days before March 15, 1960, police officers working for the City of Columbia and other officers of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division working in cooperation with the City Police of the City of Columbia, learned that Negroes would make an effort to gain food service at the Taylor Street Pharmacy located in the City of Columbia.

Agent Carl Stokes of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division testified that he and other officers advised the management of Taylor Street Pharmacy that Negroes were coming.

They had some meeting among themselves and worked out a plan whereby the action which was thereafter taken was formulated.

This plan was that among other things, that officers would be placed in the premises of the Taylor Street Pharmacy.

On March 15, 1960, Agent Carl Stokes of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Deputy Sheriff were on duty in the Taylor Street Pharmacy premises.

They've been waiting there throughout the morning, up until the time the five petitioners here appeared.

When the petitioners entered the store, they walked in quietly and some of them stopped near the front of the store to purchase some cards.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

(Inaudible)

Matthew J. Perry:

Well, they might have known it, Mr. Justice Goldberg.

The -- the Solicitor General's argument on the vagueness of the statute here might still have merit because of course, the statute did not give these petitioners any warning.

They -- they may have known but the statute didn't.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

(Inaudible)

Matthew J. Perry:

They were told this officially by the City Manager of the City of Columbia.

However, petitioner, David Carter testified at the trial that he did not know he would not be served and that in fact he went there to be served.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

(Inaudible)

Matthew J. Perry:

I would say that he was expressing some optimism, sir.

[Laughter]

Arthur J. Goldberg:

(Inaudible)

Matthew J. Perry:

After some of the petitioners stopped to buy postcards or other cards, they then started walking to the rear of the store.

Now here, perhaps I should state the lay-out of the store.

The Taylor Street Pharmacy is a very large drugstore in the City of Columbia.

In fact, it is described by its manager as a department store.

It also has a restaurant which is located near the rear or at the rear of the store premises.