Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe

PETITIONER: Organization for a Better Austin
LOCATION: Duke Power Company's Dan River Stream Station

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 402 US 415 (1971)
ARGUED: Jan 20, 1971
DECIDED: May 17, 1971

Facts of the case


Media for Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 20, 1971 in Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments next in Number 135, Organization for Better Austin against Keefe.

Mr. Long, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

David C. Long:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is on writ of certiorari to the appellate court of Illinois, first district.

That Court has approved an injunction which prohibits petitioners from passing up literature of any kind, and from picketing anywhere in the City of Westchester, Illinois.

This blanket prohibition on First Amendment activities has been in effect for now over three years.

Petitioner, the Organization for Better Austin, who I will refer to as the OBA is an integrated community organization in Austin which is a racially-changing neighborhood in the City of Chicago’s far west side.

The individual petitioners are certain officers and members of the OBA and the chairman of its Real Estate Practices Committee.

Byron R. White:

Mr. Long, can you give me a little geographic help, how close is Westchester to Austin?

David C. Long:

Respondent’s brief refers to it as being seven miles.

There’s nothing in the record which indicates the exact distance but in general, the Austin community is the next Chicago community to Oak Park which is the first western suburb and then Westchester is further west than that.

Byron R. White:

Are the two adjacent?

David C. Long:

They’re not adjacent.

Byron R. White:

Something in between?

David C. Long:

They’re roughly connected by some side roads and a freeway.

Byron R. White:

How large is Westchester?

David C. Long:

Westchester, according to the ‘60 Census is 18,000 persons, approximately.

I know one of which you offer in your argument and I know of this brief by either of -- looking over these papers last night and the question that came to my mind, is there a final judgment here?

As a state case, you got a temporary injunction.

Your adversary, it says he wants to go trial without the facts, is this a final judgment?

David C. Long:

Well, we --

I don’t want to argue with that.

David C. Long:

Briefly, we --

I haven’t directed your mind or attention to it but I should think possibly you might want to --

David C. Long:

Well, let me deal with it right now Mr. Justice Harlan.

In our petition for certiorari, we set out that this has been -- the injunction was issued although denominated temporary after a full hearing or at least as full hearing as the parties wished at that time which laid out the activities and the claim which Mr. -- the basis of Mr. Keefe’s claim that his rights have been invaded.

We admitted the activities in the trial court.

As a matter of fact, most of the pamphlets which are in evidence were submitted by defendants because defendants firmly believed that all of this material was protected by the First Amendment and attempted, we were candid about their activities.

Also, we indicated that our sole client, our sole defense was First Amendment and I’ll call Your Honor’s attention to the Logan Valley case, the Food Employees versus Logan Valley case which arose in almost in identical factual situation.

I believe it was an interlocutory or temporary injunction which was considered final by this Court because it remained in effect until modified by the Court and the same is true as we’ve set out in our reply brief with respect to temporary injunctions under Illinois law.