Boynton v. Virginia
For refusing to leave the section reserved for white people in a restaurant in a bus terminal, petitioner, a Negro interstate bus passenger, was convicted in Virginia courts of violating a state statute making it a misdemeanor for any person "without authority of law" to remain upon the premises of another after having been forbidden to do so. On appeal, he contended that his conviction violated the Interstate Commerce Act and the Equal Protection, Due Process and Commerce Clauses of the Federal Constitution; but his conviction was sustained by the State Supreme Court. On petition for certiorari to this Court, he raised only the constitutional questions. Held:
- 1. Notwithstanding the fact that the petition for certiorari presented only the constitutional questions, this Court will consider the statutory issue, which involves essentially the same problem - racial discrimination in interstate commerce. P. 457.
- 2. Under 216 (d) of the Interstate Commerce Act, which forbids any interstate common carrier by motor vehicle to subject any person to unjust discrimination, petitioner had a federal right to remain in the white portion of the restaurant, he was there "under authority of law," and it was error to affirm his conviction. Pp. 457-463.
- (a) When a bus carrier has volunteered to make terminal and restaurant facilities and services available to its interstate passengers as a regular part of their transportation, and the terminal and restaurant have acquiesced and cooperated in this undertaking, the terminal and restaurant must perform these services without discriminations prohibited by the Act. Pp. 457-461.
- (b) Although the courts below made no findings of fact, the evidence in this case shows such a situation here. Pp. 461-463.
Thurgood Marshall argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the brief were Martin A. Martin, Clarence W. Newsome, Jack Greenberg, Louis H. Pollak and Constance Baker Motley. [364 U.S. 454, 455]
Walter E. Rogers, Special Assistant to the Attorney General of Virginia, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were A. S. Harrison, Jr., Attorney General of Virginia, and R. D. McIlwaine III, Assistant Attorney General.
Solicitor General Rankin, Assistant Attorney General Tyler, Philip Elman, Harold H. Greene and David Rubin filed a brief for the United States, as amicus curiae, urging reversal.