Hague v. Congress of Industrial Organizations, 307 U.S. 496; 59 S. Ct. 954; 83 L. Ed. 1423 (1939)

Hague v. Congress of Industrial Organizations, 307 U.S. 496; 59 S. Ct. 954; 83 L. Ed. 1423 (1939)

Facts—This case involved the validity of an ordinance of Jersey City that prohibited assemblies “in or upon public streets, highways, public works, or public buildings” without a permit from the director of public safety. In reliance on this ordinance, the officers of the city had enforced a policy against the distribution of circulars, leaflets, and handbills of the CIO, which was then organizing in the city.

Question—Does an ordinance prohibiting public assemblies without permits violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?


ReasonsJ. Roberts (5–2). Although the Court has held that the Fourteenth Amendment created no rights in the citizen of the United States but merely secured existing rights against state abridgment, the right peaceably to assemble and discuss topics and to communicate respecting them, whether orally or in writing, is a privilege inherent in the citizenship of the United States that the amendment protects.

Citizenship of the United States would be little better than a name if it did not carry with it the right to discuss national legislation and the benefits, advantages, and opportunities that inure to citizens. However, the privileges and immunities section of the Fourteenth Amendment is applicable only to natural persons and not to artificial or legal persons.

J. McReynolds and J. Butler wrote short dissenting opinions focusing on the rights of municipalities to control their parks and streets and on prior precedents.

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