Hughes v. Superior Court of California
Decided on May 8, 1950; 339 US 460


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Freedom of expression, due process

B. Legal Question Presented:

Does the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution bar a State from use of the injunction to prohibit picketing of a place of business solely in order to secure compliance with a demand that its employees be in proportion to the racial origin of its then customers?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

"The petitioners, acting on behalf of a group calling themselves Progressive Citizens of America, demanded of Lucky Stores, Inc., that it hire Negroes at one of its grocery stores, as white clerks quit or were transferred, until the proportion of Negro clerks to white clerks approximated the proportion of Negro to white customers, which was then about 50%.

A California state court enjoined petitioners from picketing the employer's stores to enforce this specific demand for selective hiring on a racial basis. For violation of the injunction, petitioners were found guilty of contempt and were sentenced to fine and imprisonment. The policy of California is against discrimination on the basis of color." 

On certiorari the US Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Supreme Court of California.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Briefs of amici curiae supporting petitioners were filed by Arthur J. Goldberg for the Congress of Industrial Organizations; Robert L. Carter and Thurgood Marshall for the National Association for Advancement of Colored People; and Arthur Garfield Hays and Osmond K. Fraenkel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Bertram Edises argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioners.

Frank S. Richards argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Hugh T. Fullerton.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"[W]hile picketing is a mode of communication it is inseparably something more and different... [T]he very purpose of a picket line is to exert influences, and it produces consequences, different from other modes of communication. The loyalties and responses evoked and exacted by picket lines are unlike those flowing from appeals by printed word...

Picketing is not beyond the control of a State if the manner in which picketing is conducted or the purpose which it seeks to effectuate gives ground for its disallowance... The fact that California's policy is expressed by the judicial organ of the State rather than by the legislature we have repeatedly ruled to be immaterial... California chose to strike at the discrimination inherent in the quota system by means of the equitable remedy of injunction to protect against unwilling submission to such a system. It is not for this Court to deny to California that choice from among all 'the various weapons in the armory of the law.'"

The US Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the U.S. Supreme Court of California.

Justice Vote: 0 Pro vs. 8 Con
(Unanimous Decision for Respondent/Appellee)


  • Frankfurter, F. Con (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Black, H. Con (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Minton, S. Con (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Reed, S. Con (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Vinson, f. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Jackson, R. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Burton, H. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Clark, T. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Took no part in the decision
  • V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

    The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged reversal of the judgment of the Supreme Court of California; the Supreme Court affirmed in a 0-8 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss .