Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc.

RESPONDENT:Salem Inn, Inc.
LOCATION:Mississippi Tax Commission, Alcohol and Beverage Commission

DOCKET NO.: 74-337
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 422 US 922 (1975)
ARGUED: Apr 21, 1975 / Apr 22, 1975
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1975

Herbert Kassner – for appellees
Joseph H. Darago – for the appellant

Facts of the case


Media for Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – April 21, 1975 in Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc.
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – April 22, 1975 in Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 30, 1975 in Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 74-337, Doran against Salem Inn, Incorporated will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

The respondents in this case which comes to us from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit are three corporations which operate bars in North Hempstead, New York.

For a number of years they each entertained their customers by presenting topless dancing.

But in 1973, the town of North Hempstead enacted an ordinance forbidding anyone from permitting any female to appear in any public place with uncovered breasts.

All three of these respondents initially complied with the ordinance but they also brought suit in federal court.

And their complaint there alleged that the ordinance infringed their constitutional rights to free expression.

Immediately after the federal complaint was filed and before any decision in that case, one of these respondents, M & L Restaurant renewed its presentation of topless dancing and as a result of this, the state criminal proceedings were commenced against it and some of its dancers.

The Federal District Court later granted a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the local ordinance on behalf of all three bars despite the restrictions on federal interference with state criminal proceedings which we set forth in the case of Younger against Harris.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the issuance of the preliminary injunction as to all three of the bars.

We affirm in part and reverse in part.

We hold that M & L which went ahead and violated the ordinance may not obtain injunctive or declaratory relief unless it can satisfy the standards set forth in Younger.

So the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed as to M & L.

As to the other two respondents who did not violate the state ordinance and who therefore had no state criminal prosecutions pending against them when they brought their federal action, we hold they may obtain federal adjudication of their rights.

Because the lower courts did nothing more than grant preliminary relief we did not — we need not decide whether respondents are entitled to prevail on the merits of their First Amendment contentions, we merely decided in the light of existing case law and of the broad reach of North Hempstead’s ordinance which extends far beyond the control of topless dancing in establishments serving alcoholic beverage and of the possibility that respondents would suffer bankruptcy were the ordinance enforced while their rights were being litigated.

The District Court did not abuse its discretion in issuing a preliminary injunction in their behalf.

We therefore affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the Second Circuit.

Mr. Justice Douglas has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Rehnquist.