Donovan v. City of Dallas

RESPONDENT: City of Dallas
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Texas

CITATION: 377 US 408 (1964)
ARGUED: Apr 22, 1964
DECIDED: Jun 08, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Donovan v. City of Dallas

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 22, 1964 in Donovan v. City of Dallas

Earl Warren:

-- 264, James P. Donovan et al., Petitioners, versus City of Dallas, et al.

Mr. Donovan.

James P. Donovan:

Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices, may it please the Court.

The case which we are about to argue has been variously described as a contempt case and in the Monday's Washington Post under the calendar, it was described as a runaway construction case.

Actually, what we are here involved with is a question which I believe is of great importance federally because we are involved not so much with contempt but with the judicial power of the United States.

Briefly, how this case arose, in April of 1961, a group of people, small people, little people who live in the neighborhood of Love Field, a municipal airport in the City of Dallas, Texas, retained counsel in an effort to stop the expansion of that field and the construction of a new runway for the purpose of carrying jet traffic over their homes.

46 people were involved.We filed an action in the state court of Texas, the District Court, praying for an injunction against such construction.

As grounds for that injunction, we offered the Texas Constitution and its prohibition against seizure or damage to property without compensation in advance.

In the course of the temporary hearing, we discovered that he was proposed to support this and finance this new runway by the issue of revenue bonds.

There had been no elections so we amended our pleading and included that as a ground, an additional ground for an injunction.

In other words, the issuance, proposed issuance of revenue bonds without having submitted the proposition to an election as required by Texas law.

We had a motion for summary judgment which was granted against the plaintiffs.

We appealed to the Court of Civil Appeals which reviewed the case and rendered decisions supporting or sustaining the summary judgment.

We then applied for writ of error to a Texas Supreme Court which writ of error was denied, no reversible error.

We consider that the in re portion of the Supreme Court decision is important because of the rule in Texas which states that where a decision, where the Court, the Supreme Court is in accord with the result of the case, whether it's not wholly satisfied that the Court of Civil Appeals has correctly declared the law, then it is a reversible refused, no reversible error decision.

In other words, the result is right but the court of the -- the Supreme Court is not in agreement on all points of law mentioned in the opinion, which we believe is important in this case.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:


James P. Donovan:

It isn't -- no, we have a -- an affirmance in the rules too where we have an affirmance that affirms the law stated in the decision of the lower court.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:


James P. Donovan:

It affirms the judgment but --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:


James P. Donovan:

Not for the reasons -- not necessarily for the reason stated in the opinion of the lower court.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

But then there is something else (Inaudible)

James P. Donovan:

Yes, there is a -- there is another ruling error refused, period.

That's -- that's the whole thing.

That means that the law and the decision and the judgment are correct.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Is that also (Inaudible)

James P. Donovan:

It -- it is for practical fact.

It's -- it's an affirmance.

But the type of affirmance is different.