Boynton v. Virginia

PETITIONER: Bruce Boynton
RESPONDENT: Commonwealth of Virginia
LOCATION: Trailways Bus Terminal

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 364 US 454 (1960)
ARGUED: Oct 12, 1960
DECIDED: Dec 05, 1960

Thurgood Marshall - For the Petitioner
Walter E. Rogers - For the Respondent

Facts of the case

Bruce Boynton, a student of African American origin, went by a bus from Washington to Montgomery in Alabama. The transport way was passed through Richmond in Virginia, where the bus had a scheduled stop. During that young man (guy) came into the segregated café and sat on the table on the side for white visitors. After several asks of staffs to change place on the other table, he refused to explain that he was a bus passenger from another state, and could not adhere their internal rulings. Then the police officer called by the restraint manager arrived and arrested him. Boynton was accused of his illegal stay in the place where it was prohibited for him.

The plaintiff brought the claim to the Court in Richmond claiming on the violation of his constitutional rights and the breach of the Interstate Commerce Act. However, he was refused in his complaint that was confirmed secondly by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The case brief stated that, then the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of the USA. The judges concluded that due to the bus rendered the services that were under the racing discrimination forbiddance that meant that the bus stop on the station near that café was also under this regulations. Their opinion was based that as the transportation was the object of the Interstate Commerce Act governance, then all its rulings were expanded at all time of the busway including the time of stop on the station. Thus as its normative act considered the racial discrimination during the trip between states as unlawful actions, then the same should be applied to the transport`s stop.

Hence, the case study reflected that the court confirmed the plaintiff`s claim and denied the previous decisions.


Is the conviction of an interstate bus passenger for refusing to leave the premises of a segregated restaurant a violation of the Interstate Commerce Act?

Media for Boynton v. Virginia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 12, 1960 (Part 1) in Boynton v. Virginia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 12, 1960 (Part 2) in Boynton v. Virginia

Thurgood Marshall:

May it please the Court, I would like, if possible, to reserve some time for rebuttal.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Rogers.

Walter E. Rogers:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

I think that this Court has very clear conception of the facts in this case.

There are two I think I might mention.

It is clear that the petitioner was a passenger in interstate commerce.

His traveling in interstate commerce would've been in Richmond (Inaudible).

He left the bus and came into a private owned and operated restaurant located in the terminal building in Richmond.

That privately owned restaurant operated separate facilities for members of each race.

The testimony is specifically clear that the restaurant is in no way affiliated with or controlled by the bus company.

It operates under a lease, just as a lease of any other business establishments at such of its term at least it's on the record but the policies of the restaurant with those other restaurant.

Petitioner came into the section which is reserved for white patrons and was informed that he could not be served there, and that he would have to go into the other portion of the restaurant which is reserved for Negroes.

He refused to leave the premises and when he refused to do so, he was directly arrested for trespass after warning.

The Virginia statue is quoted at page 4 of the brief on behalf of the Commonwealth.

And it simply provides that it is not a segregation statute at all.

It is a statute which provides that if any person shall without any authority law go upon or remain upon the grounds of premises of another, after having been forbidden to do so by the owner or the person in control, then he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.

That statute has been on the statute books of Virginia since 1934.


Walter E. Rogers:

1934, it was enacted as Chapter 165 of the Acts of the Government (Inaudible) in 1934.

There have been one or two amendments since that time.

The provision for sign was included after the warning by signs and anyone who is familiar with the legislative history of that statute as to where the fact of that provision was put in there to deal with these unattended parking lots where automobiles were driven in a private property where there was no attendants so that happen to be the reason why that was inserted in.

The statute does no more than impose criminal sanctions -- criminal actions for continued trespass after the party is instructed to leave without authority -- if he is --


Walter E. Rogers:

That is true.

If he had any right either by contract with the party or anything of that sort or -- if he was proceeding as a peace officer or if this is a matter involving interstate commerce where he derives some way to go there as being an interstate passenger then he is there with authority of law and would not be guilty of trespass when refuses to leave but he has first got the authority whereby -- which he is owned the private property.



Walter E. Rogers:

Yes, I think it would.

Well, the owner has the record --