SMITH v. COLLIN, 439 U.S. 916 (1978)

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U.S. Supreme Court

SMITH v. COLLIN , 439 U.S. 916 (1978)

439 U.S. 916

Albert SMITH, President of the Village of Skokie, Illinois, et al.
Frank COLLIN et al
No. 77-1736

Supreme Court of the United States

October 16, 1978

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice BLACKMUN, with whom Mr. Justice WHITE joins, dissenting.

It is a matter of regret for me that the Court denies certiorari in this case, for this is litigation that rests upon critical, disturbing, and emotional facts, and the issues cut down to the very heart of the First Amendment.

The village of Skokie, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, in 1974 had a population of approximately 70,000 persons. A majority were Jewish; of the Jewish population a substantial number were survivors of World War II persecution. In March 1977, respondents Collin and the National Socialist Party of America, which Collin described as a "Nazi organization," publicly announced plans to hold an assembly in front of the Skokie Village Hall. On May 2, the village enacted three ordinances. The first established a permit system for parades and public assemblies and required applicants to post public liability and property damage insurance. The second prohibited the dissemination of material that incited racial or religious hatred with intent so to incite. The third prohibited public demonstrations by members of political parties while wearing military- style uniforms.

On June 22, respondent Collin applied for a permit under the first ordinance. His application stated that a public assembly would take place on July 4, would consist of persons demonstrating in front of the Village Hall, would last about a

Page 439 U.S. 916 , 917

half hour, and would not disrupt traffic. It also stated that the participants would wear uniforms with swastikas and would carry placards proclaiming free speech for white persons, but would not distribute handbills or literature. The permit was denied.

Skokie's Village Hall stood on a street that was zoned commercial. There were residential areas, however, adjoining to the North, South, and West. The front of the Village Hall was visible from dwellings in those areas.

Upon the rejection of the permit application, respondents filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the president of the village of Skokie, its manager, its corporation counsel, and the village itself. Respondents asked that the ordinances be declared void and their enforcement enjoined. The District Court, after receiving evidence, ruled that the ordinances were unconstitutional on their face, and granted the requested declaratory and injunctive relief. It filed a comprehensive opinion. 447 F.Supp. 676 ( 1978). The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, with one judge dissenting in part, affirmed. 578 F.2d 1197 (1978).

A permit then was issued to respondents for a demonstration on the afternoon of June 25, 1978, in front of the Village Hall. Respondents, however, shifted their assembly from Skokie to Chicago where activities took place on June 24 and July 9.

Other aspects of the controversy already have reached this Court. In April 1977, the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., entered an injunction against respondents prohibiting them, within the village, from parading in the National Socialist uniform, displaying the swastika, or displaying materials that incite or promote hatred against persons of the Jewish or any other faith. The Illinois Appellate Court denied an application for stay pending appeal. The Supreme Court of Illinois, in turn, denied a stay and also denied leave for an expedited appeal. Relief was sought here. This Court, per curiam but [439 U.S. 916 , 918]

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