Carroll v. President and Commissioners of Princess Anne

RESPONDENT: President and Commissioners of Princess Anne
LOCATION: Circuit Court of Somerset County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)

CITATION: 393 US 175 (1968)
ARGUED: Oct 21, 1968
DECIDED: Nov 19, 1968

Facts of the case

A white supremacist organization held a public rally near a courthouse in Princess Anne, Maryland. During the rally, members of the organization made racist and derogatory speeches amplified over a public address system. Officials of Princess Anne and Somerset County obtained a restraining order to prevent the organization from reconvening the next day. The order was ex parte, so no notice was given to the organization. The order restrained the organization from holding rallies in the county for 10 days. At trial, the Circuit Court issued an injection for another 10 months. On appeal the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed the 10 day order, but reversed the 10 month injunction because the period of time was unreasonable and arbitrary.


Was the case moot because the restraining order had already expired? Was the restraining order an improper prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment?

Media for Carroll v. President and Commissioners of Princess Anne

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 21, 1968 in Carroll v. President and Commissioners of Princess Anne

Earl Warren:

Number 6 Joseph Carroll et al. Petitioners versus President and Commissioners of Princess Anne et al.

Mrs. Norton.

Eleanor Holmes Norton:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Petitioners are members of the National Stater Rights Party, a political party committed to white supremacy to which they wish to win adherence to the Democratic process.

Specifically the record shows through running candidate in the Democratic and Republican parties as well as independently.

Their major way of reaching the public is through political street rallies.

On August 6, 1966 in Princess Anne, a sparsely populated town of 1351 persons, petitioners held a rally.

The facts break down roughly two ways.

The circumstances surrounding the issuing of the temporary injunction, and the circumstances and facts of the rally as revealed at the hearing of August 17th which led to the final injunction in this case.

The temporary injunction was gotten because at the end of the rally of August 6, another rally for the next evening was announced.

Though no violence nor even any need for police intervention to control the crowd in any way occurred at the August 6th rally.

Town and county officials got an ex parte temporary injunction for 10 days.

Rule B --

Potter Stewart:

Are you going to tell us what did occur at the August 6 rally?

Eleanor Holmes Norton:

Yes I am sir.

Potter Stewart:

You are?

Eleanor Holmes Norton:


Potter Stewart:

All right.

Eleanor Holmes Norton:

Rule BB72 forbids the granting of such an injunction without a showing of immediate, substantial, and irreparable injury to the applicant before an adversary hearing can be held, and expressly grants the right to the judge to communicate informally with the person against to whom the injunction is sought or with his attorneys.

No such measures were taken in this case.

Such injunctions are indeed extremely rare in the State of Maryland.

The temporary order and writ of injunction restrained any “rallies, gatherings, or meetings anywhere in the county that would excite to riot or other illegal acts.”

Though the writ of injunction itself addressed to the parties by name may clear that the court construed any gatherings by this party as enjoined.

Not simply those that may excite to riot etcetera, for it enjoined to use of any sound amplification equipment in the course of public meetings, such equipment being necessary to hold such meetings.

A permanent injunction -- the temporary order said might issue upon hearing.

Petitioners were not able to find representation in time for appear before the return date of August 17.

But at that time, they did -- they had secured counsel and they filed an answer asking that the temporary injunction be rescinded.

Now to the facts and circumstances surrounding the August 6th rally, they were given their first hearing at the August 17th hearing at the court.

It is important to note that there was available to the court at the time of the issuing of this ex parte injunction the tape from the August 6th rally, but the court issued the injunction against further rallies without listening to that tape at that time.

The tape recording reveals a description of the parties aims.