Gober v. Birmingham

RESPONDENT: Birmingham
LOCATION: Beaumont Mills

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 373 US 374 (1963)
ARGUED: Nov 06, 1962
DECIDED: May 20, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Gober v. Birmingham

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 06, 1962 in Gober v. Birmingham

Earl Warren:

Number 67, F.L. Shuttlesworth et al., Petitioner, versus City of Birmingham.

I beg your pardon.

This is Number 66, James Gober et al. versus City of Birmingham.

Mrs. Motley.

Constance Baker Motley:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The petitioners in this case are 10 Negro students attending Daniel Payne College in Birmingham, Alabama.

They are here pursuant to Title 28, United States Code Section 1257, seeking a reversal of their convictions for trespass after warning by the Alabama Court.

Now, relying on the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, these petitioners repeatedly find the law and assert here that their convictions are constitutionally void because they are the product of state action manifestly prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Now all 10 petitioners were arrested on March 31st, 1960 following sit-in demonstrations in five Birmingham department stores.

They at that time were seeking food service at a lunch counter limited to white persons.

Each petitioner was charged and convicted of violating Section 1436 of the Birmingham Code, a trespass after warning statute which appears on page 2 of our brief.

There are five trials in these cases, one, petitioner was tried and then it was stipulated that the testimony as to that one petitioner would apply to his companion.

You see, two petitioners went into each of these five stores.

And they were first tried in the Recorder's Court of the City of Birmingham and convicted and then appealed to the Circuit Court, their convictions were -- they affirmed and affirmed by the Court of Appeals of Alabama which is the only court that wrote an opinion and certiorari in the Supreme Court of the State was denied.

Now the significant facts in all of these cases are relatively the same.

The first important fact is that Birmingham has a city ordinance which makes it unlawful to serve Negroes and whites in the same room.

That ordinance appears on page 2 of our brief.

Now this ordinance is a part of a massive state policy of racial segregation, is set forth in our brief the Alabama segregation statutes.

All of the petitioners of course are Negroes.

For one successfully sought service in department stores where Negroes are welcomed and served at all counters except the lunch counter where this ordinance requires that there be racial segregation.

Now, in every one of these cases, the petitioners were asked to leave the counter by some representative of the store in the sense that they were told that they could not be served there or we have a counter for Negroes on the fourth floor, in the basement once you go there.

Or in some instances, the counter was closed after the Negroes appeared and were told this and didn't leave.

Now, the police arrived and the police arrived in some instances when the people were still eating and the police arrived and not pursuant to a call from any member of the store in any case.

And this -- that the record is absolutely clear on that that no employee in any one of the five stores called the police.

Moreover --

Potter Stewart:

Does the record show how the police got there?

Why they --

Constance Baker Motley:

Yes sir.

Potter Stewart:

-- why they came there?

Constance Baker Motley: