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respondent Thomas. With them on the brief were Jack P. F. Gremillion, Attorney General of Louisiana, and M. E. Culligan, Assistant Attorney General.


Pursuant to its order of January 26, 1960, 361 U. S. 950, the Court has before it (1) the application of the United States for an order vacating the order of the Court of Appeals, dated January 21, 1960, staying the judgment of the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, New Orleans Division, dated January 11, 1960; and (2) the petition of the United States for a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals to review the judgment of the District Court as to the respondent, Curtis M. Thomas, Registrar of Voters, Washington Parish, Louisiana. Having considered the briefs and oral arguments submitted by both sides, the Court makes the following disposition of these matters:

The petition for certiorari is granted. Upon the opinion, findings of fact, and conclusions of law of the District Court and the decision of this Court rendered today in No. 64, United States v. Raines, ante, p. 17, the aforesaid stay order of the Court of Appeals is vacated, and the judgment of the District Court as to the respondent Thomas is affirmed.

It is so ordered. Opinion of the Court.

362 L'.S.




No. 154. Argued January 13-14, 1960.-Decided March 7, 1960.

Over petitioner's protest that it invaded his freedom of speech and

press in violation of the Fourteenth and First Amendments to the Federal Constitution, he was convicted of violating a city ordinance which forbade distribution, in any place under any circumstances, of any handbill which did not have printed thereon the name and address of the person who prepared, distributed or sponsored it. Held: The ordinance is void on its face, and the conviction is

reversed. Lovell v. Griffin, 303 V. S. 444. Pp. 60-66. 172 Cal. App. 2d Supp. 797, 332 P. 2d 447, reversed.

A. L. Wirin and Hugh R. Manes argued the cause for petitioner. With them on the brief was Fred Okrand.

Philip E. Grey argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Roger Arnebergh.

Shad Polier, Will Maslow, Leo Pfeffer and Joseph B. Robison filed a brief for the American Jewish Congress, as amicus curiae, urging reversal.

MR. JUSTICE Black delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented here is whether the provisions of a Los Angeles City ordinance restricting the distribution of handbills "abridge the freedom of speech and of the press secured against state invasion by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution." The ordinance, $ 28.06 of the Municipal Code of the City of Los Angeles, provides:

"No person shall distribute any hand-bill in any place under any circumstances, which does not have

1 Schneider v. State, 308 U. S. 147, 154. Cf. Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U. S. 444, 450.


Opinion of the Court.

printed on the cover, or the face thereof, the name
and address of the following:
“(a) The person who printed, wrote, compiled or
manufactured the same.
“(b) The person who caused the same to be dis-
tributed; provided, however, that in the case of a
fictitious person or club, in addition to such fictitious
name, the true names and addresses of the owners,
managers or agents of the person sponsoring said

hand-bill shall also appear thereon.” The petitioner was arrested and tried in a Los Angeles Municipal Court for violating this ordinance. It was stipulated that the petitioner had distributed handbills in Los Angeles, and two of them were presented in evidence. Each had printed on it the following:

National Consumers Mobilization,
Box 6533,
Los Angeles 55, Calif.

PLeasant 9-1576. The handbills urged readers to help the organization carry on a boycott against certain merchants and businessmen, whose names were given, on the ground that, as one set of handbills said, they carried products of “manufacturers who will not offer equal employment opportunities to Negroes, Mexicans, and Orientals.” There also appeared a blank, which, if signed, would request enrollment of the signer as a "member of National Consumers Mobilization," and which was preceded by a statement that “I believe that every man should have an equal opportunity for employment no matter what his race, religion, or place of birth."

The Municipal Court held that the information printed on the handbills did not meet the requirements of the ordinance, found the petitioner guilty as charged, and fined him $10. The Appellate Department of the Supe

Opinion of the Court.

362 U.S.

rior Court of the County of Los Angeles affirmed the conviction, rejecting petitioner's contention, timely made in both state courts, that the ordinance invaded his freedom of speech and press in violation of the Fourteenth and First Amendments to the Federal Constitution.2 172 Cal. App. 2d Supp. 797, 332 P. 2d 447. Since this was the highest state court available to petitioner, we granted certiorari to consider this constitutional contention. 360 U. S. 928.

In Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U. S. 444, we held void on its face an ordinance that comprehensively forbade any distribution of literature at any time or place in Griffin, Georgia, without a license. Pamphlets and leaflets, it was pointed out, “have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty” 3 and enforcement of the Griffin ordinance "would restore the system of license and censorship in its baldest form." Id., at 452. A year later we had before us four ordinances each forbidding distribution of leaflets—one in Irvington, New Jersey, one in Los Angeles, California, one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one

2 Petitioner also argues here that the ordinance both on its face and as construed and applied “arbitrarily denies petitioner equal protection of the laws in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection” Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. This argument is based on the fact that the ordinance applies to handbills only, and does not include within its proscription books, magazines and newspapers. Our disposition of the case makes it unnecessary to consider this contention.

3 The Court's entire sentence was: “These (pamphlets and leaflets] indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest.” It has been noted that some of Thomas Paine's pamphlets were signed with pseudonyms. See Bleyer, Main Currents in the History of American Journalism (1927), 90–93. Illustrations of other anonymous and pseudonymous pamphlets and other writings used to discuss important public questions can be found in this same volume.


Opinion of the Court.

in Worcester, Massachusetts. Schneider v. State, 308 U. S. 147. Efforts were made to distinguish these four ordinances from the one held void in the Griffin case. The chief grounds urged for distinction were that the four ordinances had been passed to prevent either frauds, disorder, or littering, according to the records in these cases, and another ground urged was that two of the ordinances applied only to certain city areas. This Court refused to uphold the four ordinances on those grounds pointing out that there were other ways to accomplish these legitimate aims without abridging freedom of speech and press. Frauds, street littering and disorderly conduct could be denounced and punished as offenses, the Court said. Several years later we followed the Griffin and Schneider cases in striking down a Dallas, Texas, ordinance which was applied to prohibit the dissemination of information by the distribution of handbills. We said that although a city could punish any person for conduct on the streets if he violates a valid law, "one who is rightfully on a street ... carries with him there as elsewhere the constitutional right to express his views in an orderly fashion ... by handbills and literature as well as by the spoken word.Jamison v. Texas, 318 U. S. 413, 416.

The broad ordinance now before us, barring distribution of "any hand-bill in any place under any circumstances," falls precisely under the ban of our prior cases unless this ordinance is saved by the qualification that handbills can be distributed if they have printed on them the names and addresses of the persons who prepared, dis

* Section 28.00 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code defines “handbill" as follows: “HAND-BILL' shall mean any hand-bill, dodger, commercial advertising circular, folder, booklet, letter, card, pamphlet, sheet, poster, sticker, banner, notice or other written, printed or painted matter calculated to attract attention of the public.”

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