Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization case brief

Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization case brief summary
307 U.S. 496 (1939)

Petitioners, a city and its officials, challenged an order of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which modified and affirmed a district court's judgment that the actions of the city and its officials violated the Fourteenth Amendment rights of respondents, individuals, labor organizations, and a membership corporation, and established a cause of action under the Constitution, 8 U.S.C.S. §§ 43 and 47(3), and 18 U.S.C.S. § 51.

The city and its officials allegedly enforced a street meeting and public assembly ordinance in a manner that violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The city and its officials challenged the appeals court's jurisdiction, its conclusion that the ordinance was invalid on its face, and claimed that its order exceeded its authority and was impracticable.


  • Upon review, the Court held 28 U.S.C.S. § 41(14) provided jurisdiction with respect to the individuals' claims, but that28 U.S.C.S. § 41(1) did not. 
  • Further, the Court held that the claims of the labor unions and membership corporation were not cognizable because they were not "natural persons" entitled to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. 
  • The Court then considered the specific ordinance at issue, which prohibited public parades or assemblies without a permit, and held that it was void on its face because as drafted it allowed for arbitrary suppression of speech. 
  • The appeals court's order which granted relief to the individuals was proper, except to the extent that it attempted to formulate the conditions for distributing literature and attempted to rewrite the void ordinance.


The Court affirmed the appeals court's order, which granted relief on the individual's claims under the Fourteenth Amendment, but held that the appeals court's attempts to formulate conditions under which literature could be distributed and to rewrite the void ordinance were not proper.

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