UNITED STATES v. JOHNSON(1968)
Though the exclusive-remedy provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 207 (b), confines the enforcement of substantive rights under the Act to injunctive relief, and thus bars criminal action against proprietors and owners of facilities for refusal to serve Negroes, it does not foreclose criminal action against outsiders having no relation to the proprietors or owners. The District Court, therefore, erred in dismissing an indictment under 18 U.S.C. 241 against outside hoodlums for conspiring to assault Negroes for exercising their federal rights under the Act. Pp. 564-567.
269 F. Supp. 706, reversed.
Ralph S. Spritzer argued the cause for the United States. On the brief were Solicitor General Griswold and Assistant Attorney General Doar.
Robert B. Thompson, by appointment of the Court, post, p. 917, argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief was Reuben A. Garland.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The question in this case is whether conspiracies by outside hoodlums to assault Negroes for exercising their right to equality in public accommodations under 201 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 243, 42 U.S.C. 2000a, are subject only to a civil suit for an injunction as provided in 204 of that Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000a-3, or whether they are also subject to criminal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 241, which provides fine and imprisonment for a conspiracy "to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution [390 U.S. 563, 564] or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same . . . ."
The indictment charged a conspiracy to injure and intimidate three Negroes in the exercise of their right to patronize a restaurant. The defendants, who were outsiders, not connected with the restaurant, are charged with having used violence against these Negroes for having received service at the restaurant, the purpose of the conspiracy being in part "to discourage them and other Negro citizens from seeking service" there "on the same basis as white citizens."
The facts are not developed because the District Court granted a motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground that 207 (b) of the Act 1 makes the provision for relief by injunction the exclusive remedy under the Act. The case is here on appeal. 18 U.S.C. 3731. We noted probable jurisdiction. 389 U.S. 910 .
The legislative history contains language which to the District Court seemed to preclude remedy by indictment. Senator Humphrey, floor manager of the bill, explained 207 (b):
We have over the years given protection to many federal rights under 241. 2 We refuse to believe that hoodlums operating in the fashion of the Ku Klux Klan, were given protection by the 1964 Act for violating those "rights" of the citizen that 241 was designed to protect.
Immediately after the provision in 207 (b) stating that the remedies provided "shall be the exclusive means of enforcing the rights based on this title," is a further provision stating that "nothing in this title shall preclude any individual or any State or local agency from asserting any right based on any other Federal or State law not inconsistent with this title . . . or from pursuing any remedy, civil or criminal, which may be available for the vindication or enforcement of such right." There is, therefore, within the four corners of 207 (b) evidence that it was not designed as pre-empting every other mode of protecting a federal "right" or as granting immunity to those who had long been subject to the regime of 241.
It is, of course, true that 203 (b) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000a-2 (b), bars the use of violence against those who assert their rights under the Act, and that therefore a remedy by way of an injunction could be obtained by the party aggrieved under 204 (a). A like remedy is [390 U.S. 563, 567] available to the Attorney General by reason of 206 (a). But as we read the Act, the exclusive-remedy provision of 207 (b) was inserted only to make clear that the substantive rights to public accommodation defined in 201 and 202 are to be enforced exclusively by injunction. Proprietors and owners are not to be prosecuted criminally for mere refusal to serve Negroes. But the Act does not purport to deal with outsiders; nor can we imagine that Congress desired to give them a brand new immunity from prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 241 - a statute that encompasses "all of the rights and privileges secured to citizens by all of the Constitution and all of the laws of the United States." United States v. Price, supra, at 800.
[ Footnote 2 ] See, e. g., United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299 (the right to vote); United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (right to travel); United States v. Waddell, 112 U.S. 76 (the right to perfect a homestead); Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263 (the right to be free of violence while in the custody of a federal marshal); United States v. Mason, 213 U.S. 115 (the right of federal officers to perform their duties); United States v. Price, 383 U.S. 787 (Fourteenth Amendment rights).
MR. JUSTICE STEWART, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACK and MR. JUSTICE HARLAN join, dissenting.
I regret that I cannot join the opinion of the Court. There is, of course, no question of the reprehensibility of the appellees' alleged conduct. But the issue is whether Congress has subjected this conduct to federal criminal prosecution.
Section 201 of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 243, secures the right to equal enjoyment of places of public accommodation. Section 203 prohibits interference with that right in any of three ways:
The Court's effort to distinguish between refusal of service by a proprietor and violent interference by third parties is not only without any support in the language [390 U.S. 563, 569] of 207 but also is belied by 203 of the Title, quoted above. That section clearly prohibits intimidation and coercion by third persons as well as refusal of service by a proprietor. Congress, therefore, was explicitly aware of the kind of conduct alleged in this case when it enacted Title II, and Congress provided in 207 that the exclusive remedy to prohibit such conduct must be by injunction.
The exclusive remedies provided by Congress to protect the rights secured by Title II of the 1964 Act are undoubtedly ineffective in a case like this. But I cannot, for that reason, join in rewriting the law that Congress so clearly enacted.
I respectfully dissent.
[ Footnote 1 ] Section 207 contains a proviso; but the United States, which brought this prosecution, is conspicuously absent from the list of those to whom the proviso applies: "[N]othing in this title shall preclude any individual or any State or local agency from asserting any right based on any other Federal or State law not inconsistent with this title, including any statute or ordinance requiring nondiscrimination in public establishments or accommodations, or from pursuing any remedy, civil or criminal, which may be available for the vindication or enforcement of such right." (Emphasis added.)