MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.
We granted the writ in this case to consider the claim that an order of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, enjoining petitioners from distributing leaflets anywhere in the town of Westchester, Illinois, violates petitioners' rights under the Federal Constitution.
Petitioner Organization for a Better Austin (OBA) is a racially integrated community organization in the
OBA is an organization whose stated purpose is to "stabilize" the racial ratio in the Austin area. For a number of years the boundary of the Negro segregated area of Chicago has moved progressively west to Austin. OBA, in its efforts to "stabilize" the area—so it describes its program—has opposed and protested various real estate tactics and activities generally known as "block-busting" or "panic peddling."
It was the contention of OBA that respondent had been one of those who engaged in such tactics, specifically that he aroused the fears of the local white residents that Negroes were coming into the area and then, exploiting the reactions and emotions so aroused, was able to secure listings and sell homes to Negroes. OBA alleged that since 1961 respondent had from time to time actively promoted sales in this manner by means of flyers, phone calls, and personal visits to residents of the area in which his office is located, without regard to whether the persons solicited had expressed any desire to sell their homes. As the "boundary" marking the furthest westward advance of Negroes moved into the Austin area, respondent is alleged to have moved his office along with it.
Community meetings were arranged with respondent to try to persuade him to change his real estate practices. Several other real estate agents were prevailed on to sign an agreement whereby they would not solicit property, by phone, flyer, or visit, in the Austin community. Respondent who has consistently denied that he is engaging in "panic peddling" or "blockbusting" refused to sign, contending that it was his right under Illinois law to solicit real estate business as he saw fit.
Respondent sought an injunction in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, on December 20, 1967. After an adversary hearing the trial court entered a temporary injunction enjoining petitioners "from passing out pamphlets, leaflets or literature of any kind, and from picketing, anywhere in the City of Westchester, Illinois."
It is elementary, of course, that in a case of this kind the courts do not concern themselves with the truth or validity of the publication. Under Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (1931), the injunction, so far as it imposes prior restraint on speech and publication, constitutes an impermissible restraint on First Amendment rights. Here, as in that case, the injunction operates, not to redress alleged private wrongs, but to suppress, on the
This Court has often recognized that the activity of peaceful pamphleteering is a form of communication protected by the First Amendment. E. g., Martin v. City of Struthers, 319 U.S. 141 (1943); Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147 (1939); Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 (1938). In sustaining the injunction, however, the Appellate Court was apparently of the view that petitioners' purpose in distributing their literature was not to inform the public, but to "force" respondent to sign a no-solicitation agreement. The claim that the expressions were intended to exercise a coercive impact on respondent does not remove them from the reach of the First Amendment. Petitioners plainly intended to influence respondent's conduct by their activities; this is not fundamentally different from the function of a newspaper. See Schneider v. State, supra; Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88 (1940). Petitioners were engaged openly and vigorously in making the public aware of respondent's real estate practices. Those practices were offensive to them, as the views and practices of petitioners are no doubt offensive to others. But so long as the means are peaceful, the communication need not meet standards of acceptability.
Any prior restraint on expression comes to this Court with a "heavy presumption" against its constitutional validity. Carroll v. Princess Anne, 393 U.S. 175, 181 (1968); Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58, 70 (1963). Respondent thus carries a heavy burden of showing justification for the imposition of such a restraint. He has not met that burden. No prior decisions support the claim that the interest of an individual in being free from public criticism of his business practices in pamphlets or leaflets warrants use of the injunctive power of a court. Designating the conduct as an invasion
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, dissenting.
In deciding this case on the merits, the Court, in my opinion, disregards the express limitation of our appellate jurisdiction to "[f]inal judgments or decrees," 28 U. S. C. § 1257, and does so in a way which undermines the policies behind limiting our review to judgments "rendered by the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had," ibid., and interferes with Illinois' arrangements for the expeditious processing of litigation in its own state courts.
It is plain, and admitted by all, that the "temporary" or "preliminary" injunction entered by the Circuit Court of Cook County and affirmed by the Appellate Court, First District, is not a final judgment. Review of preliminary injunctions is a classic form of interlocutory appeal, which Congress has authorized in limited instances not including review by this Court of state decrees. See 28 U. S. C. §§ 1252, 1253; cf. 28 U. S. C. § 1292 (a) (1). Despite the seemingly absolute provision of the statute, the Court holds that this case is within the judicially created exception for instances in which the affirmance of the interlocutory order by the highest state court decides the merits of the dispute for all practical purposes, leaving the remaining proceedings in the lower courts as
Even assuming that the latter position is correct,
To be sure, the Illinois Supreme Court, by denying petitioners' motion for leave to appeal from the order of the Appellate Court, had an opportunity to rule on the issue presented by this case and declined to do so. However, Illinois has a strong policy against Supreme Court review of interlocutory orders. Until recently the Supreme Court had no direct appellate jurisdiction over judgments of the Appellate Court on interlocutory appeals, but simply reviewed the issues presented by the subsequent final judgment. 6 C. Nichols, Illinois Civil Practice § 5998 (1962 rev. vol. H. Williams & M. Wingersky). Although interlocutory review is now available in the discretion of the Supreme Court, it is "not favored." Ill. Sup. Ct. Rule 318 (b); see also Ill. Sup. Ct. Rule 315 (a). We have ourselves often made a similar
It is, of course, tempting to ignore the proper limitations on our power when the alternative is to delay correction of what the Court today holds was a flagrant error by lower courts. This is particularly true where, as here, a "temporary" injunction has been outstanding for a lengthy period. But the question is not whether we think our intervention in the dispute at this stage would be desirable—although with our overall docket running at about 4,000 cases a Term there is surely much to be said for giving each litigant only one bite at the apple. The policy judgment involved was expressly committed to Congress by Art. III, § 2, of the Constitution, and Congress has spoken in § 1257.
I would respect that congressional judgment and dismiss the writ for lack of jurisdiction.
In argument before the Illinois chancellor, petitioners' attorney stated:
"We don't wish to go into lengthy argument on constitutional provisions at this time. We feel that it is only fair that both sides prepare briefs in preparation for a full hearing on the permanent injunction. And, to that end, we just want to point out that these are constitutional questions, on which we feel the law is abundantly clear, and that is a further reason why Your Honor in his discretion, should not see fit to issue a temporary injunction." R. 56.