Lombard v. Louisiana

LOCATION: Beaumont Mills

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 373 US 267 (1963)
ARGUED: Nov 05, 1962 / Nov 06, 1962
DECIDED: May 20, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Lombard v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 05, 1962 in Lombard v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 06, 1962 in Lombard v. Louisiana

Earl Warren:

-- your time had this it?

John P. Nelson, Jr.:

Ask in rebuttal.

Earl Warren:


Attorney General Gremillion.

Jack P. F. Gremillion:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices of this Court.

I find Louisiana in a unique position here today because frankly we have no quarrel with the law as it presently exist at least in our opinion in this matter.

I think that this case of Lombard here, is one that was largely determined revolved its decision on what the facts actually are.

And they are so important that I would like to take a minute to go through the facts of this case.And then we can discuss the appropriate legal points.

Now, the facts surrounding this case was the basis of a criminal mischief charge brought against these defendants are still in Louisiana.

Between 10 and 11 o'clock on the morning of September the 17th 1960, two Negro men, a Negro woman and a white man took seats at a 24 stew lodge counter, reserved the white customers in McCrory's Five and Ten Cent Store or Canal Street in New Orleans.

Now, McCrory's is one of the national chain operates in 34 states.

It sells all kind of merchandize and it's open to the public and of course the statements I'm making here are born out by the record because I am following my brief.

The question of whether the lunch counter facilities in the various McCrory stores are segregated or integrated is left to the National Office of the McCrory stores to be determined by local tradition law and custom as interpreted by the manager of each individual store.

And that's in a transcript of the record at page 21.

Of course, as it has been point by Mr. Nelson, Louisiana has no law requiring segregation of eating facilities in its state.

It never has had -- neither thus the City of New Orleans nor do I know of any single municipality that has such an ordinance in the state, back there is none.

Now, the McCrory Store in which these defendants stay and having demonstration had separate food counters for serving food to Negro and white customers since 1938.

And as I said before, there is no law or ordinance requiring the segregation with these eating places and by operating separate lunch counters for whites and Negroes, McCrory was simply following a local custom as interpreted by that store manager, Mr. Barrett.

An employee of the lunch counter at which the defendants sat down called the restaurant manager who informed these four students both white and Negro, that he could not serve them at that counter and that he had to sell them eating materials at the rear of the store were he had a colored counter.

Now, when the manager received no answer at all from these individuals, this is the restaurant manager, he turned off the lights.

He removed the unoccupied stools -- stools and he closed the lunch counter.

A sign reading?

This counter is closed was pointed out to the students but they remained silent.

The restaurant manager then called the store manager and the police.

Now, the police -- it's significant, the police were never present in anytime.

The manger, Mr. Barrett, came behind the counter and he talked to the individuals and he asked them to leave.

Police still was not in -- were not in the establishment.

But they neither answered in nor did they move the concen -- continued to sit down.

When the police arrived, the store manager advised the students in the presence of the police and prior to talking to the police that the counter which they were seated was close and he asked them to leave the store, nothing happened.

Hugo L. Black:

I didn't quite get it.