Cox v. Louisiana

LOCATION: Longshore and Warehouse Union

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 379 US 559 (1965)
ARGUED: Oct 21, 1964 / Oct 22, 1964
DECIDED: Jan 18, 1965

Facts of the case


Media for Cox v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 22, 1964 in Cox v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 21, 1964 in Cox v. Louisiana

Earl Warren:

Number 49, B. Elton Cox versus Louisiana.

Mr. Douglas.

Nils Douglas:

Mr. Chief Justice, I will argue the appeal of the conviction of Reverend B. Elton Cox for demonstrating near a courthouse.

The facts in this case are the same facts as the previous case.

The statute involved will be found on page 4(a) of the consolidated brief for the appellant.

In essence, Your Honors, this statue prevents intentional picketing -- parading or picketing with the specific intent to either influence a judge or obstruct justice.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

This langua -- this statute as I understand is the identical counterpart of the statute which relates to the demonstrations on a stadium.

Nils Douglas:

Except that the federal statute protects federal courts, and our statute protects state courts.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Where they've dedicate with the federal statute.

Nils Douglas:

Exactly, yes.

My argument consists of three points.

The first point is that there was no clear and present danger requiring the conviction of the appellant in this case.

The second point is that neither one of the state courts which passed on this action applied the clear and present danger rule.

And the third portion of my argument is that there was no evidence upon which to convict the appellant herein.

In order to determine whether or not there was a clear and present danger in this instance, we must look to the circumstances of this case, what was said and done on the one hand and what was not said and done on the other hand.

You must look to the purposes of this demonstration.

The demonstration was held to protest the previous day's illegal arrest of the 23 Negro students.

I might add at this point, Your Honors that nothing has happened to these students since they were arrested.

In other words, at the time on the December 15th demonstration, they were in jail.

They had been booked.

They were not formally charged.

They were never arraigned.

They were released on bond.

And the statute of limitations has now run on the picketing which prompted the demonstrations for which the appellant was arrested.

The reasonable implication being that since this is the case there were some reasonable grounds for the demonstration against the arrest of these people.

Byron R. White:

Were there different reasons when we take the demonstration was successful?

Nils Douglas:

Not in view of the fact that --

Byron R. White:

Was it heard or moved without charging?

Nils Douglas:

Not in view of the fact, if Your Honor will, as our people were convicted in this case.

Byron R. White:

How long were they held at the demonstration?