Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham (373 U.S. 262)

Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham
by the Supreme Court of the United States

Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, 394 U.S. 147 (1969), was a United States Supreme Court case. The Petitioner was an African American minister who helped lead 52 African Americans in an orderly civil rights march in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. He was arrested and convicted for violating 1159 of the city's General Code, an ordinance which proscribes participating in any parade or procession on city streets or public ways without first obtaining a permit from the City Commission. Section 1159 permits the Commission to refuse a parade permit if its members believe "the public welfare, peace, safety, health, decency, good order, morals or convenience require that it be refused." Petitioner had previously been given to understand by a member of the Commission that under no circumstances would petitioner and his group be allowed to demonstrate in Birmingham. The Alabama Court of Appeals reversed the conviction on the grounds, inter alia, that 1159, as written, unconstitutionally imposed an "invidious prior restraint" without ascertainable standards for the granting of permits, and that the ordinance had been discriminatorily enforced. However, the Alabama Supreme Court in 1967 narrowly construed 1159 as an objective, even-handed traffic regulation which did not allow the Commission unlimited discretion in granting or withholding permits, and upheld petitioner's conviction. The case was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Shuttleworth was represented by the prominent civil rights attorney James Nabrit. Excerpted from Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

United States Supreme Court

373 U.S. 262

Shuttlesworth  v.  City of Birmingham

 Argued: Nov. 6, and 7, 1962. --- Decided: May 20, 1963

Mrs. Constance B. Motley, New York City, for petitioners.

Watts E. Davis, Birmingham, Ala., for respondent.

Mr. J. M. Breckenridge, Birmingham, Ala., for respondent.

Archibald Cox, Sol. Gen., for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.

Mr. Chief Justice WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).