Cameron v. Johnson
390 U.S. 611 (1968)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cameron v. Johnson, 390 U.S. 611 (1968)

Cameron v. Johnson

No. 699

Argued March 5-6, 1968

Decided April 22, 1968

390 U.S. 611

Syllabus

Appellants, to protest racial voting discrimination and encourage Negro registration, picketed the Forrest County, Mississippi, voting registration office in the county courthouse each weekday from January 23 to May 18, 1964, walking in a "march route" set off by the sheriff with barricades to facilitate access to the courthouse. On April 8, the legislature enacted the Mississippi Anti-Picketing Law, which, as amended, prohibits "picketing . . . in such a manner as to obstruct or unreasonably interfere with free ingress or egress to and from any county . . . courthouses. . . ." On April 9, the sheriff read the new law to the pickets, ordered them to disperse, and removed the barricades. When the pickets the next morning resumed marching along the now unmarked route, they were arrested for violating the Anti-Picketing statute. Other arrests were made that, afternoon, on April 11, and on May 18. On April 13, appellants brought this action seeking a judgment declaring that the Anti-Picketing Law is an invalid regulation of expression because of overbreadth and vagueness and an injunction against its enforcement in the prosecutions against them or otherwise, contending that the prosecutions were solely to discourage their freedom of expression. Following initial dismissal of the complaint and this Court's remand (381 U.S. 741) for reconsideration in the light of the intervening decision in Dombrowski v. Pfister,380 U. S. 479, an evidentiary hearing was held and the three-judge District Court again dismissed the complaint, holding that the statute was not void on its face and that appellants had failed to show sufficient irreparable injury to warrant injunctive relief.

Held:

1. The Mississippi Anti-Picketing Law is a valid regulatory statute; it is clear and precise and is not overly broad, since it does not prohibit picketing unless it obstructs or unreasonably interferes with ingress and egress to or from the courthouse. Pp. 390 U. S. 615-417.

Page 390 U. S. 612

2. This Court's independent examination of the record does not disclose that the officials acted in bad faith to harass appellants' exercise of the right to free expression; that the statute was adopted to halt appellants' picketing; or that the State had no expectation of securing valid convictions. This is therefore not a case where a federal equity court,

"by withdrawing the determination of guilt from state courts could rightly afford [appellants] any protection which they could not secure by prompt trial and appeal pursued to this Court."

Douglas v. City of Jeannette,319 U. S. 157, 319 U. S. 164. Dombrowski, supra, distinguished. Pp. 390 U. S. 617-622.

262 F.Supp. 873, affirmed.

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