HAGUE v. COMMITTEE FOR INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATION
On November 29, 1937, several individuals gathered at the headquarters of the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) in Jersey City, New Jersey to initiate a recruitment drive and discuss the National Labor Relations Act. Acting on the orders of Mayor Frank Hague, police seized the group's recruitment materials and refused to allow the meeting to take place. Hague argued that he was enforcing a 1930 city ordinance that forbade gatherings of groups that advocated obstruction of the government by unlawful means. Hague referred to CIO members as "communists." Arguing that the ordinance violated the First Amendment protection of freedom of assembly, the group filed suit against several city officials, including Hague. A District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed and invalidated the ordinance.
Did enforcement of the 1930 Jersey City ordinance violate the CIO's right to assembly under the First Amendment?
Yes. In a plurality opinion authored by Justice Owen J. Roberts, the Court concluded that the actions taken by police clearly violated the First Amendment, as applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. "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 to accrue to citizens therefrom." Relying on the Court's previous ruling in the Slaughter House Cases, Justice Roberts wrote that freedom of assembly is "a privilege inherent in citizenship of the United States" and that no "contrary view has ever been voiced" by the Court.