Cox v. Louisiana
379 U.S. 559 (1965)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 559 (1965)

Cox v. Louisiana

No. 49

Argued October 21-22, 1964

Decided January 18, 1965

379 U.S. 559

Syllabus

Appellant was convicted of violating a Louisiana statute prohibiting picketing "near" a courthouse with the intent to obstruct justice, the charge being based on the facts set forth in No. 24, ante at 383 U. S. 536, and the conviction was upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Held:

1. The statute is narrowly drawn, furthers the State's legitimate interest of protecting its judicial system from pressures which picketing near a courthouse might create, is a valid regulation of conduct, as distinguished from pure speech, and does not infringe rights of free speech and assembly. Pp. 383 U. S. 562-564.

2. Even assuming the applicability of a "clear and present danger" test, there is no constitutional objection to applying the statute to conduct of the sort engaged in by the demonstrators. Pp. 383 U. S. 565-566.

3. The evidence of intent to obstruct justice or influence any judicial official required by the statute was constitutionally sufficient. Pp. 383 U. S. 566-567.

4. Appellant was, in effect, advised by the city's highest police officials that a demonstration at the place where it was held was not "near" the courthouse, and to permit him to be convicted for exercising the privilege they told him was available would be to allow a type of entrapment violative of the Due Process Clause. Raley v. Ohio,360 U. S. 423, followed. Pp. 383 U. S. 569-571.

5. The dispersal order did not limit the time or place of the demonstration and remove the protection accorded appellant by the original grant of permission, but was based on the officials' erroneous conclusion that appellant's remarks constituted a breach of the peace. Pp. 383 U. S. 572-573.

245 La. 303, 158 So.2d 172, reversed

Page 379 U. S. 560

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