Sunday, November 24, 2013

Walker v. City of Birmingham case brief

Walker v. City of Birmingham case brief summary
388 U.S. 307 (1967)

Petitioner protestors sought certiorari review of an order of the Supreme Court of Alabama affirming a state circuit court's order finding petitioner protestors in contempt of an order enjoining them from engaging in a parade without a city permit, in violation of Birmingham, Ala., City Code §1159, in an action brought by respondent city to enforce the injunction on the parade.

Respondent city brought suit against petitioner protestors to stop petitioner protestors from engaging in an organized march without a permit, a violation of Birmingham, Ala., City Code § 1159. The state circuit court granted a temporary injunction to block the march. When petitioner protestors went forward with the march, the circuit court held petitioner protestors in contempt. The state supreme court affirmed the circuit court's order, and the court affirmed the supreme court's order.


  • The court rejected petitioner protestors' argument that § 1159 was unconstitutional. 
  • The court applied the rule that a statute was not unconstitutional until it was judicially deemed as such. 
  • Because § 1159 had not been declared unconstitutional, and petitioner protestors failed to seek to dissolve, modify, or otherwise to challenge the injunction, or the underlying statute, they could not complain about the subsequent contempt citation. 
  • Similarly, petitioner protestors could not challenge the administration of the ordinance because they failed to seek a permit. 
  • Had they done so, and been denied a permit, they might have been able to show that the administration of § 1159 was arbitrary.
The court affirmed the state supreme court's order affirming the state circuit court's order finding petitioner protestors in contempt of an injunctive order because petitioner protestors were not constitutionally free to disregard a legitimate order restraining them from marching.

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