Cameron v. Johnson

LOCATION: New Kent County School Board

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)

CITATION: 390 US 611 (1968)
ARGUED: Mar 05, 1968 / Mar 06, 1968
DECIDED: Apr 22, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for Cameron v. Johnson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 05, 1968 in Cameron v. Johnson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 06, 1968 in Cameron v. Johnson

Earl Warren:

John Earl Cameron et al., appellant, versus Paul Johnson and so forth et al.

Mr. Kinoy, you may continue your argument.

Arthur Kinoy:

Mr. Chief Justice, yesterday afternoon, we were discussing the constitutional implications of the opened concession of Mississippi that the statute here under consideration has been selectively enforced in the area of free expression.

Here, Mississippi has openly acknowledged that if a parade which completely obstructs a street has general community approval, the statute will not be enforced.

But if it has a different purpose, perhaps one in sharp opposition to what this Court has called in Button, the opinions of the politically dominant White community, the statute will be enforced.

Hugo L. Black:

Where is that concession?

Arthur Kinoy:

That concession is directly in the record, Mr. Justice Black at page -- it's set forth in full on page 74 in our brief.

The excerpts from the transcript are on page 74 of our brief.

Hugo L. Black:

Showing the concession?

Arthur Kinoy:

Yes, open complete concession.

Now, what Mississippi attempts to do here is precisely what Louisiana attempted to do before this Court in Cox and that is the effort to say that a parade is not a mass demonstration but as this Court there pointed out, a parade as the dictionary itself had -- a mass demonstration as the dictionary itself points out is a public manifestation of feeling.

Now, if this public manifestation of feeling expresses safe, dominant community views, then it's permissible.

If it expresses unpopular views such as opposition to the dominant majorities, disenfranchisement of Negroes, then it is semantically a mass demonstration prohibited by the statute, but this is precisely what this Court time and time again has said that the Constitution prohibits.

And as we pointed out yesterday, there has been striking unanimity in this Court on the vice of discriminatory enforcement because as Mr. Justice Black said in his concurring opinion in Cox that discriminatory enforcement represents censorship in its most odious form unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendment.

Hugo L. Black:

Now, Mr. Kinoy, is it also that they could not get the cases tried fairly in the courts of Mississippi?

Arthur Kinoy:

Did they concede that?

Hugo L. Black:


Arthur Kinoy:

No, they did not concede that, sir.

They conceded that the statute was selectively enforced, completely selectively enforced and the -- yes, Mr. Justice.

Abe Fortas:

Was there any statement comparable to the statement on page 74 of your brief with respect to the blocking of access to courthouses?

It's the first part of the statute here under which these people are prosecuted relates to blocking courthouses and public buildings.

The second part of it relates to free use of the streets.

The -- what you have referred to as a concession as it appears on page 74 as I read it relates only to blocking the streets.

Now, is there anything like that with respect to blocking access to public buildings or courthouses?

Arthur Kinoy:

Yes, Your Honor.

On page 236 of the transcript on the examination of Mr. Dukes and solicitor in respect to the homecoming parade for Mississippi Southern, the question was asked, “Did the parade pass in front of the courthouse?”

It did.

The question, “was it during daylight hours?”

Answer, “During the daylight hours.”

Question, “When the courthouse was normally open for business?”