Mills v. Alabama
384 U.S. 214 (1966)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S. 214 (1966)

Mills v. Alabama

No. 597

Argued April 19, 1966

Decided May 23, 1966

384 U.S. 214

Syllabus

Appellant, a Birmingham, Alabama, newspaper editor, was arrested on a complaint of violating § 285 of the Alabama Corrupt Practices Act by writing and publishing on election day an editorial urging adoption in that election of the mayor-council form of government. Section 285 proscribes electioneering or soliciting votes on election day for or against any proposition or candidate involved in the election. The trial court sustained demurrers on the grounds that the statute violated state and federal free speech guarantees. The Alabama Supreme Court, holding the statutory election-day restriction reasonable or "within the field of reasonableness," reversed and remanded the case for trial.

Held:

1. This Court has jurisdiction over the appeal. Notwithstanding the remand of the case, the Alabama Supreme Court's judgment was "final" within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1257, because appellant's conviction in any subsequent trial is inevitable in view of that court's ruling that the Alabama statute is constitutional and appellant's concession that he wrote and published the editorial. Pp. 384 U. S. 217-218.

2. A state statute making it a crime for a newspaper editor to publish an editorial on election day urging people to vote in a particular way flagrantly violates the First Amendment, applied to the States by the Fourteenth, a major purpose of which was to protect free discussion of governmental affairs. Pp. 384 U. S. 218-220.

278 Ala. 188, 176 So.2d 884, reversed and remanded.

Page 384 U. S. 215

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