Bates v. City of Little Rock

PETITIONER: Bates
RESPONDENT: City of Little Rock
LOCATION: Superior Court of Bibb County

DOCKET NO.: 41
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 361 US 516 (1960)
ARGUED: Nov 18, 1959
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1960

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Bates v. City of Little Rock

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 18, 1959 in Bates v. City of Little Rock

Earl Warren:

Number 41, Daisy Bates et al., Petitioners, versus City of Little Rock et al.

Mr. Carter you may proceed.

Robert L. Carter:

If the Court please, the question involved in this litigation concerns the constitutional validity of two ordinances and petitioners' conviction there under.

The ordinances were enacted by the City of Little Rock, and by the City of North Little Rock, as amendments to what is known as their occupation license ordinance and they're set out -- we've set out the Little Rock ordinance on page 6 and 7 of the brief for petitioner but the ordinance of North Little Rock is identical.

This ordinance or these ordinances require that any organization operating within the confines of the municipality give on demand information concerning the organization to the City Council and on page 7 is a list of the things that the ordinance demands, the name of the organization, the official place of business, the name of the officers, the purpose, or purposes of the organization and Section E, the financial statement of the organization with fees and assessments and to whom such (Inaudible) paid in an affidavit from the president of the organization if it is an -- an affiliate of a national group of what that group is.

Pursuant to these ordinances, demands were made on petitioners here for the information.

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Carter, I don't like to interrupt you so early in your argument but there is something that is not at all clear to me.

You told us I think that the ordinances are identical.

Robert L. Carter:

Yes, sir.

Potter Stewart:

The Little Rock and the North Little Rock ordinances and yet in the -- in the brief filed by the respondent, City of Little Rock, which is the only respondent's brief have, North Little Rock not having filed one as I understand it, a statement is made on page 4 that there are significant differences in the facts of the Little Rock and North Little Rock cases.

Could you tell us what you think they mean by that?

Robert L. Carter:

Well, there are -- there are significant differences.

What was meant was that in the reply to the ordinance, in reply in terms of the information, I gather that the Mrs. Williams in -- in North Little Rock gave what the -- Mr. Kemp, and this City of Little Rock is contending, complied more fully with the statute.

Now I will -- if you -- if you'll give me time, I will meet that --

Potter Stewart:

Do it in your time?

Robert L. Carter:

-- argument in --

Potter Stewart:

Something that's --

Robert L. Carter:

-- in one moment --

Potter Stewart:

(Voice Overlap) to me as --

Robert L. Carter:

-- as soon as I get the facts of problems, Your Honor.

The -- pursuant to -- to these ordinances, demands were made on these petitioners and they complied with the ordinances by sending out information as requested.

Mrs. Williams sent a letter to the Little Rock, the North Little Rock City Council which is set out on page 40 of the record in which she gave the names of the officers, the official place of business, indicated that the purpose of the organization by quoting from the Articles of Incorporation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a financial statement with regard to it, but refused to give the names of members and contributors on the grounds that these people might be subjected to various kinds of reprisals and that therefore, she could not afford to give the -- the names up and secondly, that the city had no authority to demand this information because it was an invasion of the First Amendment rights.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, was there any requirement for the names of the members of the party?

Robert L. Carter:

I'm sorry.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Any requirements for the names of members?

Robert L. Carter:

Yes, sir.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Where -- where does that appear?

Robert L. Carter:

Now --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Where does that appear in the ordinance?

Robert L. Carter:

In Section E and this is --