Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization

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Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization
Argued February 27–28, 1939
Decided June 5, 1939
Full case nameFrank Hague, Mayor, et al. v. Committee for Industrial Organization, et al.
Citations307 U.S. 496 (more)
59 S. Ct. 954; 83 L. Ed. 1423; 1939 U.S. LEXIS 1067; 1 Lab. Cas. (CCH) ¶ 17,048; 4 L.R.R.M. 501
Case history
PriorCertiorari to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Certiorari, 306 U.S. 624, to review a decree which modified and affirmed a decree of injunction, 25 F.2d 127, in a suit brought by individuals, unincorporated labor organizations, and a membership corporation, against officials of a municipality to restrain alleged violations of constitutional rights of free speech and of assembly.
The Court held that Hague's ban on political meetings violated the First Amendment right to freedom of assembly, and so the ordinances were void.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Charles E. Hughes
Associate Justices
James C. McReynolds · Pierce Butler
Harlan F. Stone · Owen Roberts
Hugo Black · Stanley F. Reed
Felix Frankfurter · William O. Douglas
ConcurrenceRoberts, joined by Black
ConcurrenceStone, joined by Reed
Frankfurter and Douglas took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I

Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U.S. 496 (1939), is a US labor law case decided by the United States Supreme Court.


In Jersey City, New Jersey, Mayor Frank Hague had in 1937 used a city ordinance to prevent labor meetings in public places and stop the distribution of literature pertaining to the Committee for Industrial Organization's cause. He referred to the CIO as "communist."

“Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens” (Justice Roberts).


District and circuit courts ruled in favor of the CIO, which brought the suit against the mayor for these actions and which was represented by Morris L. Ernst, Spaulding Frazer, Lee Pressman and Benjamin Kaplan. Hague appealed to the Supreme Court which ruled against him and held that Hague's ban on political meetings violated the First Amendment right to freedom of assembly, and so the ordinances were void.

This case brought forth the public forum to the Supreme Court, and is used as a tool for many other cases dealing with First Amendment Rights/ public forum issues. It took a long time after the 14th Amendment was adopted (1866) and ratified (1868) before the Supreme Court began to use it to assert individual rights against State and local Governments; which amplified the right to peacefully assemble and fight for freedom of speech.

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