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Bailey v. Patterson

U.S.
Feb 26, 1962
369 U.S. 31 (1962)

Summary

holding that federal question jurisdiction does not exist when the claim is "wholly insubstantial, legally speaking nonexistent"

Summary of this case from Adams v. Netflix, Inc.

Opinion

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI.

No. 643.

Decided February 26, 1962.

Appellants, Negroes living in Jackson, Mississippi, brought this civil rights action in a Federal District Court on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, seeking injunctions to enforce their constitutional rights to nonsegregated service in interstate and intrastate transportation. They alleged that such rights had been denied them under color of state statutes, municipal ordinances, and state custom and usage. A three-judge District Court convened to consider the case abstained from further proceedings, pending construction of the challenged laws by the state courts, and appellants appealed directly to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1253. Held:

1. Appellants lack standing to enjoin criminal prosecutions under Mississippi's breach-of-peace statutes, since they do not allege that they have been prosecuted or threatened with prosecution there-under; but, as passengers using the segregated transportation facilities, they have standing to enforce their rights to nonsegregated treatment. Pp. 32-33.

2. That no State may require racial segregation of interstate or intrastate transportation facilities has been so well settled that it is foreclosed as a litigable issue, and a three-judge court was not required to pass on this case under 28 U.S.C. § 2281. P. 33.

3. Since this case is not one required to be heard and determined by a district court of three judges under 28 U.S.C. § 2281, it cannot be brought to this Court on direct appeal under § 1253; but this Court has jurisdiction to determine the authority of the Court below and to make such corrective order as may be appropriate to the enforcement of the limitation which that section imposes. P. 34.

4. The judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the District Court for expeditions disposition, in the light of this opinion, of appellants' claims of right to nonsegregated transportation service. P. 34.

199 F. Supp. 595, judgment vacated and case remanded.

Constance Baker Motley, Jack Greenberg, James M. Nabrit III and R. Jess Brown for appellants.

Dugas Shands and Edward L. Cates, Assistant Attorneys General of Mississippi, and Charles Clark, Special Assistant Attorney General, for Patterson, Thomas H. Watkins for the City of Jackson, Mississippi, et al., and Junior O'Mara for the Greyhound Corporation et al., appellees.


Appellants, Negroes living in Jackson, Mississippi, brought this civil rights action, 28 U.S.C. § 1343 (3), in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, seeking temporary and permanent injunctions to enforce their constitutional rights to nonsegregated service in interstate and intrastate transportation, alleging that such rights had been denied them under color of state statutes, municipal ordinances, and state custom and usage. A three-judge District Court was convened, 28 U.S.C. § 2281, and, Circuit Judge Rives dissenting, abstained from further proceedings pending construction of the challenged laws by the state courts. 199 F. Supp. 595. Plaintiffs have appealed, 28 U.S.C. § 1253; N. A. A. C. P. v. Bennett, 360 U.S. 471. We denied a motion to stay the prosecution of a number of criminal cases pending disposition of this appeal. 368 U.S. 346.

The statutes in question are Miss. Code, 1942, Tit. 11, §§ 2351, 2351.5, 2351.7, and Tit. 28, §§ 7784, 7785, 7786, 7786-01, 7787, 7787.5.

Appellants lack standing to enjoin criminal prosecutions under Mississippi's breach-of-peace statutes, since they do not allege that they have been prosecuted or threatened with prosecution under them. They cannot represent a class of whom they are not a part. McCabe v. Atchison, T. S. F. R. Co., 235 U.S. 151, 162-163. But as passengers using the segregated transportation facilities they are aggrieved parties and have standing to enforce their rights to nonsegregated treatment. Mitchell v. United States, 313 U.S. 80, 93; Evers v. Dwyer, 358 U.S. 202.

We have settled beyond question that no State may require racial segregation of interstate or intrastate transportation facilities. Morgan v. Virginia, 328 U.S. 373; Gayle v. Browder, 352 U.S. 903; Boynton v. Virginia, 364 U.S. 454. The question is no longer open; it is foreclosed as a litigable issue. Section 2281 does not require a three-judge court when the claim that a statute is unconstitutional is wholly insubstantial, legally speaking nonexistent. Ex parte Poresky, 290 U.S. 30; Bell v. Water-front Comm'n, 279 F.2d 853, 857-858. We hold that three judges are similarly not required when, as here, prior decisions make frivolous any claim that a state statute on its face is not unconstitutional. Willis v. Walker, 136 F. Supp. 181; Bush v. Orleans Parish School Board, 138 F. Supp. 336; Kelley v. Board of Education, 139 F. Supp. 578. We denied leave to file petitions for mandamus in Bush, 351 U.S. 948, and from a similar ruling in Booker v. Tennessee Board of Education, 351 U.S. 948. The reasons for convening an extraordinary court are inapplicable in such cases, for the policy behind the three-judge requirement — that a single judge ought not to be empowered to invalidate a state statute under a federal claim — does not apply. The three-judge requirement is a technical one to be narrowly construed, Phillips v. United States, 312 U.S. 246, 251. The statute comes into play only when an injunction is sought "upon the ground of the unconstitutionality" of a statute. There is no such ground when the constitutional issue presented is essentially fictitious.

This case is therefore not one "required . . . to be heard and determined by a district court of three judges," 28 U.S.C. § 1253, and therefore cannot be brought here on direct appeal. However, we have jurisdiction to determine the authority of the court below and "to make such corrective order as may be appropriate to the enforcement of the limitations which that section imposes," Gully v. Interstate Natural Gas Co., 292 U.S. 16, 18; Oklahoma Gas Elec. Co. v. Oklahoma Packing Co., 292 U.S. 386, 392; Phillips v. United States, 312 U.S. 246, 254. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment and remand the case to the District Court for expeditious disposition, in light of this opinion, of the appellants' claims of right to unsegregated transportation service.

Vacated and remanded.


Summaries of

Bailey v. Patterson

U.S.
Feb 26, 1962
369 U.S. 31 (1962)

holding that federal question jurisdiction does not exist when the claim is "wholly insubstantial, legally speaking nonexistent"

Summary of this case from Adams v. Netflix, Inc.

holding that there was no requirement to convene three-judge panel to consider constitutionality of state statute when the constitutional issues presented was "frivolous" and "essentially fictitious"

Summary of this case from Ravenscroft v. Shore

In Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31, 82 S.Ct. 549, 7 L.Ed.2d 512 (1962), recognizing this same policy governed Congress when it passed 28 U.S.C. § 2281 et seq. (provided for three-judge courts in certain instances), the Supreme Court held that if the constitutional issue presented is insubstantial or frivolous, it is not necessary to convene a three-judge court. Because the policy considerations are identical, we agree with the district court's holding that the Bailey precedent can be applied to actions brought under § 5 of the Voting Rights Act which are insubstantial or frivolous.

Summary of this case from Broussard v. Perez

In Bailey plaintiffs sought to enforce their rights to non-segregated transportation, allegedly refused them under color of state statutes.

Summary of this case from Gates v. Collier

In Bailey the Supreme Court deemed a three-judge court unnecessary where the attack on the constitutionality of the state statute was wholly insubstantial since prior decisions made frivolous any claim that the state statute on its face was not unconstitutional. 369 U.S. at 35, 82 S.Ct. at 551.

Summary of this case from United States v. Cohan

noting related to standing that the appellants "cannot represent a class of whom they are not a part"

Summary of this case from McDonough v. Toys “R” Us, Inc.

In Bailey, the appellants initiated a civil rights action "on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated" to enforce their constitutional right to nonsegregated service in transportation.

Summary of this case from Empagran, S.A. v. F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd.

noting that named plaintiffs cannot represent a class of which they are not a part

Summary of this case from Poddar v. State Bank of India

In Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31, 82 S.Ct. 549, 7 L.Ed.2d 512 (1962), recognizing this same policy governed Congress when it passed 28 U.S.C. § 2281 et seq. (provided for three-judge courts in certain instances), the Supreme Court held that if the constitutional issue presented is insubstantial or frivolous, it is not necessary to convene a three-judge court. Because the policy considerations are identical, we agree with the district court's holding that the Bailey precedent can be applied to actions brought under § 5 of the Voting Rights Act which are insubstantial or frivolous.

Summary of this case from Crowe v. Lucas

In Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31, 82 S.Ct. 549, 7 L.Ed.2d 512 (1962), the Court found that the constitutional question raised by the complaint suffered not from being insubstantial but from being too substantial: Petitioners sought to enjoin state statutes which required segregation in transportation facilities.

Summary of this case from Blount v. Mandel

In Bailey the Court held that despite the requirements of 28 U.S.C.A. § 2281, it is unnecessary to convene a three-judge court if, under prior decisions, the state statute being attacked is so palpably unconstitutional that any contention to the contrary would be frivolous.

Summary of this case from Hinnant v. Sebesta

In Bailey, for example, the Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief against the operation and enforcement of a series of Mississippi statutes purporting to impose racial segregation in interstate transportation services.

Summary of this case from Trombetta v. State of Florida

In Bailey, supra, the Supreme Court recited the settled doctrine, "Section 2281 [Title 28, U.S.C.] does not require a three-judge court when the claim that a statute is unconstitutional is wholly insubstantial, legally speaking nonexistent," and ruled that the converse is also true: "We hold that three judges are similarly not required when, as here, prior decisions make frivolous any claim that a state statute on its face is not unconstitutional," 369 U.S. at 33, 82 S.Ct. at 551.

Summary of this case from Dameron v. Tangipahoa Parish Police Jury

In Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31, 33, 82 S.Ct. 549, 551, 7 L.Ed.2d 512 (1962) the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "Section 2281 does not require a three-judge court when the claim that a statute is unconstitutional is wholly insubstantial, legally speaking nonexistent.

Summary of this case from Benoit v. Gardner
Case details for

Bailey v. Patterson

Case Details

Full title:BAILEY ET AL. v . PATTERSON ET AL

Court:U.S.

Date published: Feb 26, 1962

Citations

369 U.S. 31 (1962)
82 S. Ct. 549

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