Healy v. James

LOCATION: McDonnell Douglas Corporation Factory

DOCKET NO.: 71-452
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 408 US 169 (1972)
ARGUED: Mar 28, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 26, 1972

F. Michael Ahern - for respondents
Melvin L. Wulf - for petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for Healy v. James

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 28, 1972 in Healy v. James

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments next in 71-452, Healy against James.

Mr. Wulf, you may proceed when you’re ready.

Melvin L. Wulf:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

This case is here out of petition for writ of certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The question that presents is whether the First Amendment forbids the President of a State College from refusing official recognition to a student political organization when the decision is based only upon undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance.

The facts of the case are: that the petitioners in this case following the applicable rules of the college, Central Connecticut State College, submitted an application for recognition of a local chapter of the students for a democratic society.

The fact of recognition has significant consequences because without it, a student group cannot meet on campus, cannot make use of any of the college’s facilities, cannot sponsor meetings on campus, cannot make use of the student newspaper, nor use of the student bulletin boards nor can it make application for student funds.

But --

Are these students still enrolled there?

Melvin L. Wulf:

Two of them are sir.

Tess and Doyle are still duly enrolled at the college, yes.

The application that they submitted and I want to read it and its entirety because it’s really the foundation of our assertions about their First Amendment claim.

Said that they would like to form a local chapter of Students for Democratic Society, and they gave three reasons.

They said because the university is intended to be the arena of education where there is an unfettered exchange of ideas.

SDS would provide a form of discussion in self education for students developing an analysis of American society institutions including higher education and a world situation in general.

They said that SDS would provide an agency for integrating thought with action, so as to bring about constructive changes in the university, in American life and the world.

And thirdly, they said that SDS would provide a coordinating body for relating the problems of leftist students and other groups such as the student body as a whole, the working class, the black populace or whatever other individuals or groups in fact or potentially in accord with the purposes of the Central Connecticut State College Chapter of SDS.

That application was submitted a joint student faculty committee called the Student Activities Committee, and the petitioners came before the committee who raised a few questions with them.

They themselves, the committee was concerned about evidence of violent responsive, the national SDS organization at local SDS chapters throughout the country.

And they asked the petitioners about what their ties would be to the National SDS?

And the student’s replied, this is on page 94 of the appendix that the Chapter does not affiliate with the national organization.

They said, we will be completely independent and when asked why the chapter -- why they carry to use the name of National SDS.

They said because the name brings to mind the type of organization we wish to bring across.

That is a left wing organization which will allow the student’s interested in such to express themselves.

Potter Stewart:

Who are the members of the Committee, was it a student faculty?

Melvin L. Wulf:

It’s a joint student faculty committee.

I do not know what the --

Potter Stewart:

Just student faculty?

No members of the administration as such?

One dean.