Ordinances Held Unconstitutional


1. Weston v. City Council of Charleston, 27 U.S. (2 Pet.) 449 (1829).

City ordinance which levied a tax on stock issued by the United

States impaired the federal borrowing power and was void (Art. VI).

Justices concurring: Marshall, C.J., Washington, Duvall, Story.

Justices dissenting: Johnson, Thompson.

2. Cannon v. City of New Orleans, 87 U.S. (20 Wall.) 577 (1874).

New Orleans ordinance of 1852, imposing a charge for use of piers measured by tonnage of vessel, levied an invalid tonnage duty.

3. Murray v. City of Charleston, 96 U.S. 432 (1878).

Charleston, South Carolina, tax ordinance which withheld from interest payments on municipal bonds a tax levied after issuance of such bonds at a fixed rate of interest impaired the obligation of contract (Art. I, § 10).

Justices concurring: Strong, Waite, C.J., Clifford, Bradley, Swayne, Harlan, Field.

Justices dissenting: Miller, Hunt.

4. Moran v. City of New Orleans, 112 U.S. 69 (1884).

Ordinance of New Orleans, so far as it imposed license tax upon persons owning and running towboats to and from the Gulf of Mexico, was an invalid regulation of commerce.

5. New Orleans Gas Co. v. Louisiana Light Co., 115 U.S. 650 (1885).

Municipal ordinance granting to a public utility an exclusive right to supply the city with gas, and state constitutional provision abolishing outstanding monopolistic grants, impaired the obligation of contract when enforced against a previously chartered utility which, through consolidation, had inherited the monopolistic, exclusive privileges of two utility corporations chartered prior to the constitutional proviso and ordinance.

6. New Orleans Water-Works Co. v. Rivers, 115 U.S. 674 (1885).

When a utility is chartered with an exclusive privilege of supplying a city with water, a subsequently enacted ordinance authorizing an individual to supply water to a hotel impaired the obligation of contract.

7. Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886).

San Francisco ordinance regulating certain phases of the laundry business, as arbitrarily enforced against Chinese, held to violate the equal protection of the laws.

8. Leloup v. Port of Mobile, 127 U.S. 640 (1888).

A Mobile, Alabama, ordinance which levied an occupational license tax on a telegraph company doing an interstate business was void.

9. McCall v. California, 136 U.S. 104 (1890).

San Francisco ordinance which imposed a license tax on a soliciting agent for a foreign corporation was void as levying a tax on interstate commerce.

Justices concurring: Lamar, Miller, Field, Bradley, Harlan, Blatchford.

Justices dissenting: Fuller, C.J., Gray, Brewer.

10. Brennan v. City of Titusville, 153 U.S. 289 (1894).

An ordinance of a Pennsylvania city requiring a license tax of a soliciting agent for a manufacturer in another State was held invalid as imposing a tax upon interstate commerce.

11. City of Walla Walla v. Walla Walla Water Co., 172 U.S. 1 (1898).

A Washington city ordinance which authorized construction of a municipal water works impaired the obligation of a contract previously negotiated with a private utility providing the same service.

12. City of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles City Water Co., 177 U.S. 558 (1900).

Ordinance expanding city limits beyond those to be served by a utility leasing a municipality's water works and effecting diminution of the rates stipulated in the original agreement without any equivalent compensation impaired the obligation of contract between the utility and the city.

13. City of Detroit v. Detroit Citizens' St. Ry., 184 U.S. 368 (1902).

City ordinances, which adjusted the rate of fare stipulated in agreements made with a street railway company, held to impair the obligation of contract.

14. Caldwell v. North Carolina, 187 U.S. 622 (1903).

Greensboro ordinance imposing a license on photographic business, as applied to an agent of an out-of-state corporation, was held an invalid regulation of commerce.

15. Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. v. Borough of Taylor, 192 U.S. 64 (1904) Ordinance of Taylor, Pennsylvania authorizing an inspection fee on telegraph companies doing an interstate business held to be an unreasonable and invalid regulation of commerce.

Justices concurring: Peckham, Fuller, C.J., Brown, White, McKenna, Holmes, Day.

Justices dissenting: Harlan, Brewer.

16. City of Cleveland v. Cleveland City Ry., 194 U.S. 517 (1904).

Ordinance reducing the rate of fares to be charged by railway companies lower than cited in previous ordinances held to impair the obligation of contract.

17. Dobbins v. City of Los Angeles, 195 U.S. 223 (1904).

No change in the neighborhood having occurred between passage of two zoning ordinances, the second, which excluded a gas company from erecting a plant within the area authorized by the first ordinance, was held to effect an arbitrary deprivation of property without due process of law.

18. City of Cleveland v. Cleveland Electric Ry., 201 U.S. 529 (1906).

Ordinance according to a consolidated municipal railway an extension of the duration date of franchises issued to its predecessors, in consideration of which substantial sums were expended on improvements, gave rise to a new contract, which was impaired by later attempt on the part of the city to reduce the rate stipulated in the franchises thus extended.

19. Rearick v. Pennsylvania, 203 U.S. 507 (1906).

A Sunbury, Pennsylvania ordinance imposing a license fee for the solicitation of orders for the sale of merchandise not of the parties own manufacture imposed an invalid burden on interstate commerce when applied to a Pennsylvania agent of an Ohio company who solicited orders for the latter's products and upon receipt of the latter, consigned to a designated purchaser, consummated the sale by delivering the merchandise to such purchaser and, upon the latter's approval of the parcel delivered, collected the purchase price for transmission to the Ohio employer.

20. Mayor of Vicksburg v. Vicksburg Waterworks Co., 206 U.S. 496 (1907).

Municipal contract with utility fixing the maximum rate to be charged for supplying water to inhabitants was invalidly impaired by subsequent ordinances altering said rates.

21. Londoner v. City of Denver, 210 U.S. 373 (1908).

The due process requirements of notice and hearing in connection with the assessment of taxes were violated by a municipal assessment ordinance which afforded the taxpayer the privilege of filing objections but no opportunity to support his objections by argument and proof in open hearing.

Justices concurring: Moody, Harlan, Brewer, White, Peckham, McKenna, Day.

Justices dissenting: Fuller, C.J., Holmes.

22. City of Minneapolis v. Street Ry., 215 U.S. 417 (1910).

Minneapolis ordinance of 1907, directing the sale of six train tickets for 25¢, was void as impairing the contract which arose from passage of the ordinance of 1875 granting to a railway a franchise expiring in 1923 and establishing a fare of not less than 5¢.

23. Eubank v. City of Richmond, 226 U.S. 137 (1912).

Municipal ordinance requiring authorities to establish building lines on separate blocks back of the public streets and across private property upon the request of less than all the owners of the property affected invalidly authorized the taking of property, not for public welfare but, for the convenience of other property owners; and therefore was violative of due process.

24. Williams v. City of Talladega, 226 U.S. 404 (1912).

A $100 license fee imposed by ordinance of an Alabama city on a foreign telegraph company, part of whose business income was derived from the transmission of messages for the Federal Government was void as a tax on a federal instrumentality (Art. VI).

25. Grand Trunk Western Ry. v. City of South Bend, 227 U.S. 544 (1913).

South Bend, Indiana, ordinance of 1901 repealing a portion of an ordinance of 1866 authorizing a railroad to lay double tracks on one of its streets impaired the obligation of contract contrary to Art. I, § 10.

Justices concurring: Lamar, Holmes, White, C.J., Lurton, Van Devanter, McKenna, Day (separately).

Justices dissenting: Hughes, Pitney.

26. City of Owensboro v. Cumberland Telephone Co., 230 U.S. 58 (1913).

An ordinance of a Kentucky muncipality which required a telephone company to remove from the streets poles and wires installed under a prior ordinance granting permission to do so, without restriction as to the duration of such privilege, or, in the alternative, pay a rental not prescribed in the original ordinance impaired an obligation of contract contrary to Art. I,§ 10.

Justices concurring: Lurton, White, C.J., Holmes, Van Devanter, Lamar.

Justices dissenting: Day, McKenna, Hughes, Pitney.

27. Boise Water Co. v. Boise City, 230 U.S. 84 (1913).

An ordinance of an Idaho municipality adopted in 1906 which subjected a water company to monthly rental fees for the use of its streets invalidly impaired the obligation of contract arising under an ordinance of 1889 which granted a predecessor company the privilege of laying water pipes under the city streets without payment of any charge for the exercise of such right.

28. Old Colony Trust Co. v. City of Omaha, 230 U.S. 100 (1913).

An ordinance of a Nebraska municipality adopted in 1908 requiring, without any showing of the necessity therefor, a utility to remove its poles and wires from the city streets invalidly impaired an obligation of contract arising from an ordinance of 1884 granting in perpetuity the privilege of erecting and maintaining poles and wires for the transmission of power.

29. Adams Express Co. v. City of New York, 232 U.S. 14 (1914).

New York city ordinances requiring an express company to obtain a local license, exacting license fees for express wagons and drivers, and requiring drivers to be citizens, to the extent that they extended to interstate commerce, imposed invalid burdens on such commerce.

Accord: U.S. Express Co. v. City of New York, 232 U.S. 35 (1914).

30. City of Sault Ste. Marie v. International Transit Co., 234 U.S. 333 (1914).

Michigan city municipal ordinance which compelled operator of a ferry between Canadian and Michigan points to take out a license imposed an invalid burden on the privilege of engaging in foreign commerce.

31. South Covington Ry. v. City of Covington, 235 U.S. 537 (1915).

Kentucky municipal ordinance, insofar as it sought to regulate the number of street cars to be run, and the number of passengers allowed in each car, between interstate points imposed an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. Also, the requirement that temperature in the cars never be permitted to be below 50° was unreasonable and violative of due process.

32. Gast Realty Co. v. Schneider Granite Co., 240 U.S. 55 (1916).

St. Louis ordinance which levied one-fourth of the cost of paving on property fronting on the street and the remaining three-fourths upon all property in the taxing district according to area and without equality as to depth denied equal protection of the laws.

33. Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60 (1917).

A Louisville, Kentucky, ordinance which forbade "colored" persons to occupy houses in blocks where the majority of the houses were occupied by whites was deemed to prevent sales of lots in such blocks to African Americans and to deprive the latter of property without due process of law.

34. Accord: Harmon v. Tyler, 273 U.S. 668 (1927), voiding a similar New Orleans ordinance.

35. Accord: City of Richmond v. Deans, 281 U.S. 704 (1930), voiding a similar Richmond, Virginia, ordinance

36. Northern Ohio Traction & Light Co. v. Ohio ex rel. Pontius, 245 U.S. 574 (1918).

Resolution of Stark County commissioners in 1912 purporting to revoke an electric railway franchise previously granted in perpetuity by appropriate county authorities in 1892 amounted to state action impairing the obligation of contract.

Justices concurring: McReynolds, White, C.J., McKenna, Holmes, Van Devanter, Pitney.

Justices dissenting: Clarke, Brandeis.

37. City of Denver v. Denver Union Water Co., 246 U.S. 178 (1918).

Rates fixed by a Denver ordinance pertaining to the charges to be collected for services by a water company deprived the latter of its property without due process of law by reason of yielding a return of 4.3% compared with prevailing rates in the city of 6% and higher obtained on secured and unsecured loans.

Justices concurring: Pitney, White, C.J., McReynolds, Day, Van Devanter, McKenna.

Justices dissenting: Holmes, Brandeis, Clarke.

38. City of Covington v. South Covington St. Ry., 246 U.S. 413 (1918).

Kentucky city ordinance of 1913 purporting to grant a 25-year franchise for a street railway over certain streets to the best bidder impaired the obligation of contract of an older street railway accorded a perpetual franchise over the same street.

Justices concurring: Holmes, Pitney, White, C.J., McReynolds, Day, Van Devanter, McKenna.

Justices dissenting: Clark, Brandeis.

39. Detroit United Ry. v. City of Detroit, 248 U.S. 429 (1919).

Detroit ordinance which compelled street railway company to carry passengers on continuous trips over franchise lines to and over nonfranchise lines, and vice versa, for a fare no greater than its franchises entitled it to charge upon the former alone impaired the obligation of the franchise contracts; and insofar as its enforcement would result in a deficit, also deprived the company of its property without due process.

Justices concurring: Day, Pitney, White, C.J., McReynolds, Van Devanter, McKenna.

Justices dissenting: Clarke, Holmes, Brandeis.

40. City of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles Gas Corp., 251 U.S. 32 (1919).

Los Angeles ordinance authorizing city to establish lighting system of its own could not effect removal of fixtures of a lighting company occupying streets pursuant to rights granted by a prior franchise without paying compensation required by due process clause.

Justices concurring: McKenna, White, C.J., Holmes, Day, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis.

Justices dissenting: Pitney, Clarke.

41. City of Houston v. Southwestern Tel. Co., 259 U.S. 318 (1922).

Houston ordinance was void inasmuch as the rates fixed there-under were confiscatory and deprived the utility of its property without due process of law.

42. City of Paducah v. Paducah Ry., 261 U.S. 267 (1923).

Fares prescribed by ordinance of Kentucky city were confiscatory and deprived the utility of property without due process of law.

43. Texas Transp. Co. v. City of New Orleans, 264 U.S. 150 (1924).

New Orleans license tax ordinance could not be validly enforced as to the business of a corporation employed as agent by owners of vessels engaged exclusively in interstate and foreign commerce, where its business was a necessary adjunct of said commerce and consisted of the soliciting and engaging of cargo, the nomination of vessels to carry it, arranging for delivery on wharf and for stevedores, payment of ships' disbursements, issuing bills of lading, and collecting freight charges.

Justices concurring: Sutherland, Taft, C.J., Sanford, McReynolds, Butler, McKenna, Van Devanter.

Justices dissenting: Brandeis, Holmes.

44. Real Silk Mills v. City of Portland, 268 U.S. 325 (1925).

Portland, Oregon, ordinance which exacted a license fee and a bond for insuring delivery from solicitors who go from place to place taking orders for goods for future delivery and receiving deposits in advance was invalid as unduly burdening interstate commerce when enforced against solicitors taking orders for an out-of-state corporation which confirmed the orders, shipped the merchandise directly to the customers, and permitted the solicitors to retain the deposited portion of the purchase as compensation.

45. Mayor of Vidalia v. McNeely, 274 U.S. 676 (1927).

Ordinance of Louisiana municipality which exacted license as a condition precedent for operation of a ferry across boundary waters separating two States imposed an invalid burden on interstate commerce.

46. Delaware, L. & W.R.R. v. Town of Morristown, 276 U.S. 182 (1928).

New Jersey municipal ordinance which compelled use of railroad station grounds for a public hackstand without compensation deprived the railroad of property without due process.

Justices concurring: Brandeis, Holmes (separately).

47. Sprout v. City of South Bend, 277 U.S. 163 (1928).

Indiana municipal ordinance which exacted from motor bus operators a license fee adjusted to the seating capacity of a bus could not be validly enforced against an interstate carrier, for the fee was not exacted to defray expenses of regulating traffic in the interest of safety, or to defray the cost of road maintenance or as an occupation tax imposed solely on account of intrastate business.

48. Nectow v. City of Cambridge, 277 U.S. 183 (1928).

Massachusetts municipal zoning ordinance which placed owner's land in a residential district with resulting inhibition of use for commercial purposes deprived the owner of property without due process because the requirement did not promote health, safety, morals, or general welfare.

49. Washington ex rel. Seattle Trust Co. v. Roberge, 278 U.S. 116 (1928).

Municipal (Washington) zoning ordinance which conditioned issuance of a permit to enlarge a home for the aged in a residential area upon the approval of the owners of two-thirds of the property within 400 feet of the proposed building was unconstitutional and violative of due process because the condition bore no relationship to public health, safety, and morals and entailed an improper delegation of legislative power to private citizens.

50. Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 (1938).

Griffin, Georgia, ordinance which exacted a permit for the distribution of literature by hand or otherwise was violative of freedom of press as guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by imposing censorship in advance of publication.

51. Hague v. C.I.O., 307 U.S. 496 (1939).

A Jersey City ordinance forbidding distribution of printed matter and the holding, without permits, of public meetings in streets and other public places withheld freedom of speech and assembly contrary to the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justices concurring: Roberts, Black, Frankfurter, Douglas, Stone, Reed, Hughes, C.J. (concurred with opinions of Robert Stone).

Justices dissenting: McReynolds, Butler.

52. Schneider v. New Jersey, 308 U.S. 147 (1939).

Irvington, New Jersey ordinance prohibiting solicitation and distribution of circulars by canvassing from house to house, unless licensed by the police, violates the First Amendment as applied to one who delivered religious literature and solicited contributions door to door.

Justices concurring: Hughes, C.J., Butler, Stone, Roberts, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Black.

Justice dissenting: McReynolds.

53. Accord: Young v. California, 308 U.S. 147 (1939).

Los Angeles ordinance invalid on same basis.

54. Accord: Snyder v. City of Milwaukee, 308 U.S. 147 (1939).

Milwaukee ordinance invalid on same basis.

55. Accord: Nichols v. Massachusetts, 308 U.S. 147 (1939).

Worcester, Massachusetts ordinance invalid on same basis.

56. McGoldrick v. Gulf Oil Corp., 309 U.S. 414 (1940).

The New York City sales tax cannot be collected on sales to vessels engaged in foreign commerce of fuel oil manufactured from imported crude petroleum in bond. Thus enforced, the city ordinance is invalid as an infringement of congressional regulations of foreign and interstate commerce (Art. I, § 8, cl. 3).

57. Carlson v. California, 310 U.S. 106 (1940).

A Shasta County, California, ordinance making it unlawful for any person to carry or display any sign or badge in the vicinity of any place of business for the purpose of inducing others to refrain from buying or working there, or for any person to loiter or picket in the vicinity of any place of business for such purpose, is unconstitutional and is violative of freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justices concurring: Hughes, C.J., Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy.

Justice dissenting: McReynolds.

58. Jamison v. Texas, 318 U.S. 413 (1943).

A Dallas ordinance made it unlawful to throw any handbills, circulars, cards, newspapers or any advertising material upon any street or sidewalk in the city. As applied, the ordinance prohibited the dissemination of information, a denial of the freedom of the press, and where the handbills contained an invitation to participate in a religious activity, a denial of freedom of religion, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

59. Largent v. Texas, 318 U.S. 418 (1943).

A Paris City ordinance which made it unlawful for any person to solicit orders or to sell books, wares or merchandise within the residential portion of Paris without a permit is invalid as applied. The ordinance abridges the freedom of religion, speech and press guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution in that it forbids the distribution of religious publications without a permit, the issuance of which is in the discretion of a municipal officer.

60. Jones v. City of Opelika, 319 U.S. 103 (1943).

An Opelika, Alabama, ordinance imposing licenses and taxes on various businesses cannot constitutionally be applied to the business of selling books and pamphlets on the streets or from house to house. As applied the ordinance infringes liberties of speech and press and religion guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justices concurring: Stone, C.J., Black, Douglas, Murphy, Rutledge.

Justices dissenting: Reed, Roberts, Frankfurter, Jackson.

61. Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943).

An ordinance of the City of Jeanette stated that all persons soliciting therein orders for merchandise of any kind, or persons delivering such articles under orders so obtained must procure a license and pay a prescribed fee therefor in an amount measured by the time for which the license is granted. When applied to religious colporteurs engaged in dissemination of their religious beliefs through the sale of books and pamphlets from house to house, the ordinance invades freedom of religion, speech and press contrary to the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

Justices concurring: Stone, C.J., Black, Douglas, Murphy, Rutledge.

Justices dissenting: Roberts, Reed, Frankfurter, Jackson.

62. Martin v. City of Struthers, 319 U.S. 141 (1943).

An ordinance of Struthers, Ohio, made it unlawful for any person distributing handbills, circulars, or other advertisements to ring the door bell, sound the door knocker, or otherwise summon occupants of any residence to the door for the purpose of receiving such handbills, etc. The ordinance, as applied to one distributing leaflets advertising a religious meeting, interfered with the rights of freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment. The ordinance, by failing to distinguish between householders who are willing to receive the literature and those who are not, extended further than was necessary for protection of the community.

Justices concurring: Stone, C.J., Black, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Rutledge.

Justices dissenting: Roberts, Reed, Jackson.

63. Follett v. Town of McCormick, 321 U.S. 573 (1944).

A McCormick, South Carolina, ordinance required agents selling books to pay a license fee of $1.00 per day or $15.00 per year. The constitutional guaranty of religious freedom under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution precludes exacting a book agent's license fee from a distributor of religious literature notwithstanding that his activities are confined to his hometown and his livelihood is derived from contributions requested for the literature distributed.

Justices concurring: Stone, C.J., Black, Reed, Douglas, Murphy, Rutledge.

Justices dissenting: Roberts, Frankfurter, Jackson.

64. Nippert v. City of Richmond, 327 U.S. 416 (1946).

Richmond, Va., City Code imposed upon persons "engaged in business as solicitors an annual license tax of $50.00 plus one-half of one per centum of their gross receipts or commissions for the preceding license year in excess of $1,000.00." Permit of Director of Public Safety was required before issuance of the license. The ordinance violated the commerce clause in that it discriminated against out-of-state merchants in favor of local ones and operated as a barrier to the introduction of out-of-state merchandise.

Justices concurring: Stone, C.J., Reed, Frankfurter, Rutledge, Burton.

Justices dissenting: Black, Douglas, Murphy.

65. Joseph v. Carter & Weekes Stevedoring Co., 330 U.S. 422 (1947).

A New York City law provided that for the privilege of carrying on within the city any trade, business, or profession, every person shall pay a tax of one-tenth of one per centum upon all receipts received in and/or allocable to the city during the year. The excise tax levied on the gross receipts of a stevedoring corporation is invalid since it would burden interstate and foreign commerce in violation of the commerce clause of the Constitution.

Justices concurring: Vinson, C.J., Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas (dissenting in part), Murphy (dissenting in part), Jackson, Rutledge (dissenting in part), Burton.

Justice dissenting: Black.

66. Saia v. New York, 334 U.S. 558 (1948).

A Lockport ordinance forbidding use of sound amplification excepted public dissemination, through loudspeakers, of news, matters of public concern, and athletic activities, provided that the latter be done under permission obtained from the Chief of Police. The ordinance is unconstitutional on its face as a previous restraint on the right of free speech in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment. No standards were prescribed for the excercise of discretion by the Chief of Police.

Justices concurring: Vinson, C.J., Black, Douglas, Murphy, Rutledge.

Justices dissenting: Reed, Frankfurter, Jackson, Burton.

67. Terminiello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949).

A Chicago ordinance proscribed the making of improper noises or other conduct contributing to a breach of the peace. Petitioner was convicted of violating said ordinance by reason of the fact that he had addressed a large audience in an auditorium where he had vigorously criticized various political and racial groups as well as the disturbances produced by an angry and turbulent crowd protesting his appearance. At this trial, the judge instructed the jury that any behavior which stirs the public to anger, invites dispute, brings about a condition of unrest, or creates a disturbance, violates the ordinance. As construed and applied by the trial court the ordinance violates the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment and made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justices concurring: Black, Reed, Douglas, Murphy, Rutledge.

Justices dissenting: Vinson, C.J., Frankfurter, Jackson, Burton.

68. Kunz v. New York, 340 U.S. 290 (1951).

Because of prior denunciation of other religious beliefs, appellant's license to conduct religious meetings on New York City streets was revoked. A local ordinance forbade the holding of such meetings without a license but contained no provisions for revocation of such licenses and no standard to guide administrative action in granting or denying permits. Appellant was convicted for holding religious meetings without a permit. The ordinance was held to grant discretionary power to control in advance the right of citizens to speak on religious issues and to impose a prior restraint on the exercise of freedom of speech and religion.

Justices concurring: Vinson, C.J., Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Burton, Clark, Minton.

Justices dissenting: Jackson.

69. Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, 340 U.S. 349 (1951).

A Madison, Wisconsin, ordinance prohibited the sale of milk as pasteurized unless it had been processed and bottled at an approved plant within a radius of five miles from the central square of Madison. An Illinois corporation, engaged in gathering and distributing milk from farms in Illinois and Wisconsin was denied a license to sell milk within the City solely because its pasteurization plants were more than five miles away. The ordinance unjustifiably discriminated against interstate commerce in violation of the commerce clause of the Constitution.

Justices concurring: Vinson, C.J., Reed, Frankfurter, Jackson, Burton, Clark.

Justices dissenting: Black, Douglas, Minton.

70. Gelling v. Texas, 343 U.S. 960 (1952).

Marshall City, Texas, motion picture censorship ordinance, as enforced, was unconstitutional as denying freedom of speech and press protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

71. Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953).

A Pawtucket ordinance read as follows: "No person shall address any political or religious meeting in any public park, but this section shall not be construed to prohibit any political or religious club or society from visiting any public park in a body, provided that no public address shall be made under the auspices of such club or society in such park." Because services of a Jehovah's Witnesses sect differed from those conducted by other religious groups, in that the former were marked by lectures rather than confined to orthodox rituals, that sect was prevented from holding religious meetings in parks. Thus applied, the ordinance was held to violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Federal Constitution, including the equal protection clause of the latter.

72. Slochower v. Board of Education, 350 U.S. 551 (1956).

Section 903 of the New York City Charter provides that whenever a city employee invokes the privilege against self-incrimination to avoid answering inquiries into his official conduct by a legislative committee, his employment shall terminate. The summary dismissal thereunder, without notice and hearing, of a teacher at City College who was entitled to tenure and could be discharged only for cause and after notice, hearing and appeal, violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Invocation of the privilege to justify refusal to answer questions of a congressional committee concerning membership in the Communist Party in 1948-1949 cannot be viewed as the equivalent either to a confession of guilt or a conclusive presumption of perjury.

Justices concurring: Black (concurring specially), Douglas (concurring specially), Warren, C.J., Frankfurter, Clark.

Justices dissenting: Reed, Burton, Minton, Harlan.

73. Holmes v. City of Atlanta, 350 U.S. 879 (1955).

Atlanta ordinance which reserved certain public parks and golf courses for white persons only was violative of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

74. West Point Grocery Co. v. City of Opelika, 354 U.S. 390 (1957).

Ordinance of Opelika, Alabama, provided that a wholesale grocery business which delivers groceries in the City from points without the City must pay an annual privilege tax of $250. As applied to a Georgia corporation which solicits orders in the City and consummates purchases by deliveries originating in Georgia, the tax is invalid under the commerce clause of the Constitution.

Justices concurring: Warren, C.J., Frankfurter, Douglas, Burton, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Whittaker.

Justice dissenting: Black.

75. Lambert v. California, 355 U.S. 225 (1957).

Los Angeles Municipal Code made it unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a crime punishable in California as a felony to remain in the city longer than five days without registering with the Chief of Police. Applied to a person who is not shown to have had actual knowledge of his duty to register, this ordinance violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Justices concurring: Warren, C.J., Black, Douglas, Clark, Brennan.

Justices dissenting: Frankfurter, Burton, Harlan, Whittaker.

76. Staub v. City of Baxley, 355 U.S. 313 (1958).

Baxley, Georgia, made it an offense to "solicit" membership in any "organization, union or society" requiring the payment of "fees [or] dues" without first receiving a permit from the Mayor and Council. Issuance or refusal may occur after the character of the applicant, the nature of the organization in which memberships are to be solicited, and its effect upon the general welfare of the City have been considered. Appellant had been convicted for soliciting memberships in a labor union without a license. The ordinance is void on its face because it makes enjoyment of freedom of speech contingent upon the will of the Mayor and City Council and thereby constitutes a prior restraint upon that freedom contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Justices concurring: Warren, C.J., Douglas, Black, Burton, Harlan, Brennan, Whittaker.

Justices dissenting: Frankfurter, Clark.

77. Smith v. California, 361 U.S. 147 (1959).

A Los Angeles City ordinance making it unlawful for any bookseller to possess any obscene publication denies him freedom of press, as guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, when it is judicially construed to make him absolutely liable criminally for mere possession of a book, later adjudged to be obscene, notwithstanding that he had no knowledge of the contents thereof. Such construction would tend to restrict the books he sells to those he has inspected and thereby to limit the public's access to constitutionally protected publications.

Justices concurring: Clark, Warren, C.J., Whittaker, Brennan, Stewart, Black (separately), Frankfurter (separately), Douglas (separately), Harlan (dissenting in part; separately).

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

Little Rock and North Little Rock, Arkansas, ordinances which, as a condition of exempting charitable organizations from an annual business license tax, required the disclosure of the identity of the officers and members of said organizations, as enforced against the N.A.A.C.P., denied members of the latter freedom of association, press, and speech as guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justices concurring: Brennan, Clark, Frankfurter, Stewart, Warren, C.J., Whittaker, Harlan, Black (separately), Douglas (separately).

79. Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960).

Los Angeles ordinance which forbade distribution under any circumstance of any handbill which did not have printed thereon the name and address of the person who prepared, distributed, or sponsored it was void on its face as abridging freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such ordinance is not limited to identifying those responsible for fraud, false advertising, libel, disorder, or littering.

Justices concurring: Warren, C.J., Stewart, Harlan (separately), Douglas, Black.

Justices dissenting: Clark, Frankfurter, Whittaker.

80. Schroeder v. City of New York, 371 U.S. 208 (1962).

New York City Water Supply Act, insofar as it authorized notification of land owners, whose summer resort property would be adversely affected by city's diversion of water, by publication of notices in January in New York City official newspaper and in newspapers in the county where the resort property was located as well as by notices posted on trees and poles along the waterway adjacent to such property, did not afford the quality of notice, i.e., to the owners' permanent home address, required by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

81. Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967).

San Francisco ordinance authorizing warrantless entry of residential property to inspect for housing code violations violates Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

82. See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541 (1967).

Seattle ordinance authorizing warrantless entry of commercial property to inspect for fire code violations violates Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

83. Teitel Film Corp. v. Cusack, 390 U.S. 139 (1968).

Chicago motion picture censorship ordinance is unconstitutional in several procedural aspects.

84. Avery v. Midland County, 390 U.S. 474 (1968).

Enactment of Midland County, Texas commissioners court drawing boundaries for districts of election of members does not comply with required "one-man, one-vote" standard.

Justices concurring: White, Black, Douglas, Brennan, Warren, C.J..

Justices dissenting: Harlan, Fortas, Stewart.

85. Interstate Circuit, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 390 U.S. 676 (1968).

Dallas ordinance providing for classification of motion pictures as not suitable for viewing by young persons does not provide adequate standards and is void for vagueness.

Justices concurring: Marshall, Black, Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, White, Fortas, Warren, C.J..

Justices dissenting: Harlan.

86. Hunter v. Erickson, 393 U.S. 385 (1969).

Amendment to Akron, Ohio city charter providing that any ordinance enacted by council dealing with discrimination in housing was not to be effective until approved by referendum whereas no other enactment had to be so submitted violated equal protection clause.

Justices concurring: White, Douglas, Brennan, Fortas, Marshall, Warren, C.J..

Justices concurring specially: Harlan, Stewart.

Justices dissenting: Black.

87. Coates v. City of Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611 (1971).

Cincinnati ordinance making it unlawful for three or more persons to assemble on a sidewalk and conduct themselves in a manner annoying to passers-by is unconstitutionally vague and violates rights to assembly and association.

Justices concurring: Stewart, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Marshall. Justices concurring specially: Black.

Justices dissenting: White, Blackmun, Burger, C.J..

88. Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 U.S. 156 (1972).

Jacksonville, Florida vagrancy ordinance is void for vagueness because it fails to give a person fair notice that his contemplated conduct is forbidden, because it encourages arbitrary and erratic enforcement of the law, because it makes criminal activities which by modern standards are normally innocent, and because it vests unfettered discretion in police.

89. Police Dep't of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92 (1972).

Chicago ordinance prohibiting all picketing within certain distance of any school except labor picketing violates equal protection clause by impermissibly distinguishing between types of peaceful picketing.

90. Cason v. City of Columbus, 409 U.S. 1053 (1972).

Columbus, Ohio ordinance prohibiting use of abusive language toward another as applied by court below without limitation to fighting words cannot sustain conviction.

91. Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (1974).

New Orleans ordinance interpreted by state courts to punish the use of opprobrious words to police officer without limitation of offense to uttering of fighting words is invalid.

Justices concurring: Brennan, Douglas, Stewart, White, Marshall. Justice concurring specially: Powell.

Justices dissenting: Blackmun, Rehnquist, Burger, C.J..

92. Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205 (1975).

A Jacksonville, Florida ordinance making it a public nuisance and a punishable offense for a drive-in movie theater to exhibit films containing nudity, when the screen is visible from a public street or place, is facially invalid as an infringement of First Amendment rights.

Justices concurring: Powell, Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, Black-mun.

Justices dissenting: White, Rehnquist, Burger, C.J..

93. Hynes v. Mayor of Oradell, 425 U.S. 610 (1976).

Oradell, New Jersey ordinance requiring that advance written notice be given to local police by any person desiring to canvass, solicit, or call from house to house for a charitable or political purpose held void for vagueness.

Justices concurring: Burger, C.J., Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall, Black-mun, Powell.

Justice dissenting: Rehnquist.

94. Linmark Associates v. Township of Willingboro, 431 U.S. 85 (1977).

Wilingboro, New Jersey ordinance prohibiting posting of real estate "For Sale" and "Sold" signs for the purpose of stemming what the township perceived as flight of white homeowners violated the First Amendment.

95. Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494 (1977).

East Cleveland zoning ordinance that limited housing occupancy to members of single family and restrictively defined family so as to prevent an extended family, i.e., two grandchildren by different children residing with grandmother, violated due process clause.

Justices concurring: Powell, Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun.

Justice concurring specially: Stevens.

Justices dissenting: Stewart, Rehnquist, White; Burger (on other grounds).

96. Carter v. Miller, 434 U.S. 356 (1978).

Lower court's invalidation on equal protection grounds of Chicago ordinance that permanently denies public chauffeur's license to applicants previously convicted of certain crimes while making revocation of previously licensed persons convicted of same offenses discretionary is affirmed by an equally divided Court.

97. Village of Schaumburg v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 444 U.S. 620 (1980).

Schaumburg, Illinois ordinance prohibiting door-to-door or on-the-street solicitation of contributions by charitable organizations that do not use at least 75 percent of their receipts for "charitable purposes" violates First and Fourteenth Amendment speech protections.

Justices concurring: White, Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell, Stevens, Burger, C.J.. Justice dissenting: Rehnquist.

98. Edwards v. Service Machine & Shipbuilding Corp., 449 U.S. 913 (1980).

Court of Appeals decision voiding on commerce clause grounds an ordinance of St. Mary Parish, Louisiana requiring non-local job seekers and local workers seeking new jobs to obtain identification card and to provide fingerprints, photograph, and pay fee is summarily affirmed.

99. Town of Southampton v. Troyer, 449 U.S. 988 (1980).

Court of Appeals decision invalidating on First Amendment grounds an ordinance of Southampton, New York barring door-to-door solicitation without prior consent of occupant, but excepting canvassers who have lived in the municipality at least six months is affirmed.

100. Schad v. Borough of Mount Ephraim, 452 U.S. 61 (1981).

Mount Ephraim, New Jersey zoning ordinance construed to bar the offering of live entertainment within the township violated the First Amendment.

Justices concurring: White, Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell. Justice concurring specially: Stevens.

Justices dissenting: Burger, C.J., Rehnquist.

101. Metromedia v. City of San Diego, 453 U.S. 490 (1981).

Complex ban on billboard displays within the City of San Diego, excepting certain onsite signs and 12 categories of particular signs, violates First Amendment.

Justices concurring: White, Stewart, Marshall, Powell.

Justices concurring specially: Brennan, Blackmun; Stevens (in part).

Justices dissenting: Burger, C.J., Rehnquist.

102. Citizens Against Rent Control v. City of Berkeley, 454 U.S. 290 (1981).

Berkeley, California ordinance limiting to $250 any contributions to committees formed to support or oppose ballot measures submitted to popular vote violates First Amendment.

Justices concurring: Burger, C.J., Brennan, Powell, Rehnquist, Stevens. Justices concurring specially: Marshall, Blackmun, O'Connor.

Justice dissenting: White.

103. Rusk v. Espinosa, 456 U.S. 951 (1982).

Court of Appeals decision holding violative of the First Amendment an Albuquerque, New Mexico ordinance regulating solicitation by charitable organizations but exempting solicitation by religious groups for "evangelical, missionary or religious" but not secular purposes is summarily affirmed.

104. Giacobbe v. Andrews, 459 U.S. 801 (1982).

Federal district court decision holding that New York City's plan for apportioning 10 at-large seats for the City Council among the City's five boroughs violates the one person, one vote requirements of the Equal Protection Clause, summarily affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, is summarily affirmed.

105. City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416 (1983) (subsequently overruled in part).

Akron, Ohio ordinance regulating the circumstances of abortions is unconstitutional in the following respects: by requiring all abortions performed after the first trimester to be performed in a hospital, by requiring parental consent or court order for abortions performed on minors under age 15, by requiring the attending physician to provide detailed information on which "informed consent" may be premised, by requiring a 24-hour waiting period, and by requiring disposal of fetal remains in a "humane and sanitary manner."

Justices concurring: Powell, Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens, Burger, C.J..

Justices dissenting: O'Connor, White, Rehnquist.

106. City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432 (1985).

Cleburne, Texas zoning requirement of a special use permit for operation of a home for the mentally retarded in an area where boarding homes, nursing and convalescent homes, and fraternity or sorority houses are permitted without such special use permits is a denial of equal protection as applied, the record containing no rational basis for the distinction.

Justices concurring: White, Powell, Rehnquist, Stevens, O'Connor, Burger, C.J..

Justices concurring specially: Marshall, Brennan, Blackmun.

107. Hudnut v. American Booksellers Ass'n, 475 U.S. 1001 (1986).

Appeals court decision holding invalid under the First Amendment an Indianapolis ordinance prohibiting as pornography "graphic sexually explicit subordination of women" without regard to appeal to prurient interests or offensiveness to community standards is summarily affirmed.

108. City of Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987).

Houston ordinance making it unlawful to "oppose, molest, abuse, or interrupt" police officer in performance of duty is facially overbroad in violation of the First Amendment.

Justices concurring: Brennan, White, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens. Justices concurring specially: Powell, O'Connor, Scalia.

Justice dissenting: Rehnquist, C.J..

109. Board of Airport Comm'rs v. Jews for Jesus, 482 U.S. 569 (1987).

Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners resolution banning all "First Amendment activities" at airport is facially overbroad in violation of the First Amendment.

110. City of Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Publishing Co., 486 U.S. 750 (1988).

Lakewood, Ohio ordinance vesting in the mayor unbridled discretion to grant or deny a permit for location of newsracks on public property violates the First Amendment.

Justices concurring: Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Scalia.

Justices dissenting: White, Stevens, O'Connor.

111. City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989).

Richmond, Virginia requirement that contractors awarded city construction contracts must subcontract at least 30% of the dollar amount to "minority business enterprises" violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Justices concurring: O'Connor, White, Stevens, Kennedy, Rehnquist, C.J.. Justice concurring specially: Scalia.

Justices dissenting: Marshall, Brennan, Blackmun.

112. New York City Bd. of Estimate v. Morris, 489 U.S. 688 (1989).

New York City Charter procedures for electing City's Board of Estimate, consisting of three members elected citywide (the Mayor, the comptroller, and the president of the City Council) and the elected presidents of the city's five boroughs, violate the one-person, one-vote requirements derived from the Equal Protection Clause.

Justices concurring: White, Marshall, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Rehnquist, C.J..

Justices concurring specially: Blackmun, Brennan, Stevens.

113. FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215 (1990).

Dallas licensing scheme for "sexually oriented" businesses, as applied to businesses that engage in protected First Amendment activity, constitutes an invalid prior restraint on protected activity. The ordinance fails to place a time limit within which the licensing authority must act, and fails to provide a prompt avenue for judicial review.

Justices concurring: O'Connor, Stevens, Kennedy.

Justices concurring specially: Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun.

Justices dissenting: White, Scalia, Rehnquist, C.J..

114. R. A. V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992).

St. Paul, Minnesota's Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance, which punishes the display of a symbol which one knows will arouse anger, alarm, or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, or gender, is facially invalid under the First Amendment because it discriminates solely on the basis of the subjects that speech addresses.

Justices concurring: Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, Rehnquist, C.J.. Justices concurring specially: White, Blackmun, O'Connor, Stevens.

115. Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992).

Providence, Rhode Island's use of members of the clergy to offer prayers at official public secondary school graduation ceremonies violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The involvement of public school officials with religious activity was "pervasive," to the point of creating a state-sponsored and state-directed religious exercise in a public school; officials not only determined that an invocation and benediction should be given, but also selected the religious participant and provided him with guidelines for the content of non-sectarian prayers.

Justices concurring: Kennedy, Blackmun, Stevens, O'Connor, Souter.

Justices dissenting: Scalia, White, Thomas, Rehnquist, C.J..

116. Lee v. International Soc'y for Krishna Consciousness, 505 U.S. 830


A regulation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey banning leafletting ("the sale or distribution of . . . printed or written material" to passers-by) within the airport terminals operated by the facility is invalid under the First Amendment.

Justices concurring (per curiam): Blackmun, Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter.

Justices dissenting: Rehnquist, C.J., White, Scalia, Thomas.

117. City of Cincinnati v. Discovery Network, Inc., 507 U.S. 410 (1993).

Cincinnati's refusal, pursuant to an ordinance prohibiting distribution of commercial handbills on public property, to allow the distribution of commercial publications through freestanding newsracks located on public property, while at the same time allowing similar distribution of newspapers and other noncommercial publications, violates the First Amendment.

Justices concurring: Stevens, Blackmun, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter.

Justices dissenting: Rehnquist, C.J., White, Thomas.

118. Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993).

Hialeah, Florida's ordinances banning the killing of animals in a ritual sacrifice are unconstitutional as infringing the free exercise of religion by members of the Santeria religion.

Justices concurring: Kennedy, White, Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas, Rehnquist, C.J..

Justices concurring specially: Blackmun, O'Connor.

119. C & A Carbone, Inc. v. Town of Clarkstown, 511 U.S. 383 (1994).

Clarkstown, New York's "flow control" ordinance, which requires all solid waste within the town to be processed at a designated transfer station before leaving the municipality, discriminates against interstate commerce and is invalid under the Commerce Clause.

Justices concurring: Kennedy, Stevens, Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg. Justice concurring specially: O'Connor.

Justices dissenting: Souter, Blackmun, Rehnquist, C.J..

120. City of Ladue v. Gilleo, 512 U.S. 43 (1994).

Ladue, Missouri's ordinance, which prohibits all signs but makes exceptions for several narrow categories, violates the First Amendment by prohibiting a resident from placing in the window of her home a sign containing a political message. By prohibiting residential signs that carry political, religious, or personal messages, the ordinance forecloses "a venerable means of communication that is both unique and important."

121. City of Chicago v. Morales, 527 U.S. 41 (1999).

Chicago's Gang Congregation Ordinance, which prohibits "criminal street gang members" from "loitering" with one another or with other persons in any public place after being ordered by a police officer to disperse, violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ordinance violates the requirement that a legislature establish minimal guidelines for law enforcement.

Justices concurring: Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer.

Justices dissenting: Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist, C.J..

122. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc'y v. Village of Stratton, 122 S. Ct. 2080 (2002)

The Ohio village's ordinance making it a misdemeanor offense to engage in door-to-door advocacy without first registering with the mayor and receiving a permit, required to be shown to an officer or resident who so requests, violates the First Amendment. The free and unhampered distribution of pamphlets is "an age-old form of missionary evangelism," and is also important for the dissemination of ideas unrelated to religion. The ordinance is not narrowly tailored to serve the village's "important," interests in preventing crime, preventing fraud, and protecting privacy.

Justices concurring: Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer. Justices concurring specially: Scalia, Thomas.

Justice dissenging: Rehnquist, C.J..

123. Polar Tankers, Inc. v. City of Valdez, Alaska, 129 S. Ct. 2277 (2009).

Alaska city’s “ordinance imposing a personal property tax upon ‘[b]oats and vessels of at least 95 feet in length’ that regularly travel to the City, are kept or used within the City, or which annually take on at least $1 million worth of cargo or engage in other business transactions of comparable value in the City,” violates the Tonnage Clause (Art. I, § 10, cl. 3).

Justices concurring: Breyer, Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Alito

Justices concurring specially: Roberts, C.J., Thomas

Justices dissenting: Stevens, Souter

124. McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S.__, No. 08-1521 (2010)

A Chicago ordinance effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens who reside in the city, and an Oak Park, Illinois ordinance that makes it “unlawful for any person to possess ... any firearm” including handguns, violate the Second Amendment. A plurality of the Court found that the Second Amendment is fully applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, as self-defense through use of firearms is "fundamental to the Nation's scheme of ordered liberty," and handguns are the preferred firearm for protection of one's home and family. Justice Thomas found that the Second Amemdnent was applicable to the states under the Privileges or Immunities Clause.

Justices concurring: Alito, Roberts, C.J., Scalia, Kennedy.

Justices concurring specially: Thomas.

Justices dissenting: Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor.

Last modified: June 9, 2014