Bates v. Little Rock
361 U.S. 516 (1960)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Bates v. Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516 (1960)

Bates v. City of Little Rock

No. 41

Argued November 18, 1959

Decided February 23, 1960

361 U.S. 516

Syllabus

Petitioners, custodians of the records of local branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, were tried, convicted and fined for violating identical occupational license tax ordinances of two Arkansas cities by refusing to furnish the city officials with lists of the names of the members of the local branches of the Association.

Held: On the record in this case, compulsory disclosure of the membership lists would work unjustified interference with the members' freedom of association, which is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by the States; and the convictions are reversed. Pp. 361 U. S. 517-527.

(a) It is now beyond dispute that freedom of association for the purpose of advancing ideas and airing grievances is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by the States. Pp. 361 U. S. 522-523.

(b) On the record in this case, it sufficiently appears that compulsory disclosure of the membership lists of the local branches of the Association would work a significant interference with the freedom of association of their members. Pp. 361 U. S. 523-524.

(c) The cities here, as instrumentalities of the State, have not demonstrated so cogent an interest in obtaining and making public the membership lists of these organizations as to justify the substantial abridgment of associational freedom which such disclosures would effect, since the record discloses no relevant correlation between the power of the municipalities to impose occupational license taxes and the compulsory disclosure and publication of these membership lists. Pp. 361 U. S. 524-527.

229 Ark. 819, 319 S.W.2d 37, reversed.

Page 361 U. S. 517

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