1st Amendment Freedom of Assembly Cases naacp V. Alabama (1958)



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1st Amendment Freedom of Assembly Cases

NAACP v. Alabama (1958)

Facts of the Case: 

As part of its strategy to enjoin the NAACP from operating, Alabama required it to reveal to the State's Attorney General the names and addresses of all the NAACP's members and agents in the state.

Question: 

Did Alabama's requirement violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion: 

Yes. The unanimous Court held that a compelled disclosure of the NAACP's membership lists would have the effect of suppressing legal association among the group's members. Nothing short of an "overriding valid interest of the State," something not present in this case, was needed to justify Alabama's actions.

Decisions



Decision: 9 votes for NAACP, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Association

Roberts v. Jaycees (1984)

Facts of the Case: 

According to its bylaws, membership in the United States Jaycees was limited to males between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. Females and older males were limited to associate membership in which they were prevented from voting or holding local or national office. Two chapters of the Jaycees in Minnesota, contrary to the bylaws, admitted women as full members. When the national organization revoked the chapters' licenses, they filed a discrimination claim under a Minnesota anti-discrimination law. The national organization brought a lawsuit against Kathryn Roberts of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, who was responsible for the enforcement of the anti-discrimination law.

Question: 

Did Minnesota's attempts to enforce the anti-discrimination law violate the Jaycees' right to free association under the First Amendment?

Conclusion: 

In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Jaycees chapters lacked "the distinctive characteristics that might afford constitutional protection to the decision of its members to exclude women." The Court reasoned that making women full members would not impose any serious burdens on the male members' freedom of expressive association. The Court thus held that Minnesota's compelling interest in eradicating discrimination against women justified enforcement of the state anti-discrimination law. The Court found that the Minnesota law was not aimed at the suppression of speech and did not discriminate on the basis of viewpoint.

Decisions



Decision: 7 votes for Roberts, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Association

Board of Directors of Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte (1987)

Facts of the Case: 

When the Duarte chapter of Rotary International violated club policy by admitting three women into its active membership its charter was revoked and it was expelled. The California Court of Appeals, however, in reversing a lower court decision, found that Rotary International's action violated a California civil rights act prohibiting sexual discrimination.

Question: 

Did a law which required California Rotary Clubs to admit women members violate Rotary International's First Amendment rights of association?

Conclusion: 

No. Considering the size, purpose, selectivity, and exclusivity of Rotary's membership, the Court found that the relationship among the club's members was not of the intimate or private variety which warrants First Amendment protection. Writing for the unanimous Court, Justice Powell argued that because many of Rotary's activities (including their meetings) are conducted in the presence of strangers, and because women members would not prevent the club from carrying out its purposes, there was no violation of associational rights. Furthermore, even if there were a slight encroachment on the rights of Rotarians to associate, that minimal infringement would be justified since it "serves the State's compelling interest" in ending sexual discrimination.

Decisions



Decision: 7 votes for Rotary Club, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Association

Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000)

Facts of the Case: 

The Boy Scouts of America revoked former Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster James Dale's adult membership when the organization discovered that Dale was a homosexual and a gay rights activist. In 1992, Dale filed suit against the Boy Scouts, alleging that the Boy Scouts had violated the New Jersey statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in places of public accommodation. The Boy Scouts, a private, not-for-profit organization, asserted that homosexual conduct was inconsistent with the values it was attempting to instill in young people. The New Jersey Superior Court held that New Jersey's public accommodations law was inapplicable because the Boy Scouts was not a place of public accommodation. The court also concluded that the Boy Scouts' First Amendment freedom of expressive association prevented the government from forcing the Boy Scouts to accept Dale as an adult leader. The court's Appellate Division held that New Jersey's public accommodations law applied to the Boy Scouts because of its broad-based membership solicitation and its connections with various public entities, and that the Boy Scouts violated it by revoking Dale's membership based on his homosexuality. The court rejected the Boy Scouts' federal constitutional claims. The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed. The court held that application of New Jersey's public accommodations law did not violate the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right of expressive association because Dale's inclusion would not significantly affect members' abilities to carry out their purpose. Furthermore, the court concluded that reinstating Dale did not compel the Boy Scouts to express any message.

Question: 

Does the application of New Jersey's public accommodations law violate the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right of expressive association to bar homosexuals from serving as troop leaders?

Conclusion: 

Yes. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that "applying New Jersey's public accommodations law to require the Boy Scouts to admit Dale violates the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right of expressive association." In effect, the ruling gives the Boy Scouts of America a constitutional right to bar homosexuals from serving as troop leaders. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote for the Court that, "[t]he Boy Scouts asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values it seeks to instill," and that a gay troop leader's presence "would, at the very least, force the organization to send a message, both to the young members and the world, that the Boy Scouts accepts homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior."

Decisions



Decision: 5 votes for Boy Scouts of America, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly


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