Hobby v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Dodge Main Plant

DOCKET NO.: 82-2140
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 468 US 339 (1984)
ARGUED: Apr 25, 1984
DECIDED: Jul 02, 1984

Daniel R. Pollitt - for petitioner
Daniel H. Pollitt - of the Petitioner
Joshua I. Schwartz - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Hobby v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 25, 1984 in Hobby v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments first this morning in Hobby v. the United States.

Mr. Pollitt.

Daniel H. Pollitt:

Mr. Chief Justice, thank you, sir.

May it please the Court, this case involves the appointment of white males only as forepersons of federal grand juries in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

The appointments were made by Article III federal district court judges.

The discrimination continued unabated for 15 consecutive grand juries, from 1974 through 1981.

There were 15 forepersons selected by the judges, all white males, no blacks, and no women.

The testimony also shows that the odds of this happening by chance are 1 in 10,000.

The government does not deny this pattern of discrimination in favor of white males against blacks and women, nor does the government deny that this discrimination is wrong, that it is unlawful.

In response to our petition for certiorari, the government said that it would take steps to have the U.S. Attorneys call the attention of the courts to the importance of nondiscriminatory foreperson selection procedures.

Warren E. Burger:

Would you agree, Mr. Pollitt, that the... a key question, if not the key question in this case is, assuming the truth of all that, which we accept because it's agreed to, its impact on this particular case is the Gorton thing, isn't it?

Daniel H. Pollitt:

Sir, it was below.

But I think that it is no longer the important thing.

I would like to focus on the judges who made these appointments, rather than on the forepersons who exercised the various powers.

We do think that this is much like Rose v. Mitchell in regard to the powers exercised by the forepersons of the federal grand juries.

But what we urge here is the exercise of the supervisory power of this Court over the lower federal judges, and we think that is the critical issue, if Your Chief Justice please.

And I would like to address that, if I may.

This Court does have supervisory power, the grandaddy--

Byron R. White:

You aren't pressing a constitutional issue, then?

Daniel H. Pollitt:

--No, sir.

We don't think that's necessary.

We'll relate to the constitutional issue--

Byron R. White:

Well, what if we didn't agree with your supervisory argument?

What then?

Daniel H. Pollitt:

--Well, then we'd go back to the constitutional issues, Your Honor, please.

Byron R. White:

Are you going to argue those?

Daniel H. Pollitt:

I will argue them only in the context... for example, the Rose v. Mitchell and the equal protection cases under the Fourteenth Amendment, and what I refer to myself as the Heard v. Hodges situation.

Herd was a restrictive covenant case out of the District of Columbia.

The companion case was Shelley v. Kramer.

In Shelley, this Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause precluded the state court judges from executing and enforcing the restrictive covenants.