Bridges v. California ex rel. Times-Mirror Company/Opinion of the Court

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Opinion of the Court

United States Supreme Court

314 U.S. 252

Bridges  v.  California ex rel. Times-Mirror Company

 Argued: Oct. 13, 1941. --- Decided: Dec 8, 1941


These two cases, while growing out of different circumstances and concerning different parties, both relate to the scope of our national constitutional policy safeguarding free speech and a free press. All of the petitioners were adjudged guilty and fined for contempt of court by the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Their conviction rested upon comments pertaining to pending litigation which were published in newspapers. In the Superior Court and later in the California Supreme Court, petitioners challenged the state's action as an abridgment, prohibited by the Federal Constitution, of freedom of speech and of the press, but the Superior Court overruled this contention, and the Supreme Court affirmed. [1] The importance of the constitutional question prompted us to grant certiorari. 309 U.S. 649, 60 S.Ct. 807, 84 L.Ed. 1001; 310 U.S. 623, 60 S.Ct. 1098, 84 L.Ed. 1395.

In brief, the state courts asserted and exercised a power to punish petitioners for publishing their views concerning cases not in all respects finally determined, upon the following chain of reasoning: California is invested with the power and duty to provide an adequate administration of justice; by virtue of this power and duty, it can take appropriate measures for providing fair judicial trials free from coercion or intimidation; included among such appropriate measures is the common law procedure of punishing certain interferences and obstructions through contempt proceedings; this particular measure, devolving upon the courts of California by reason of their creation as courts, includes the power to punish for publications made outside the court room if they tend to interfere with the fair and orderly administration of justice in a pending case; the trial court having found that the publications had such a tendency, and there being substantial evidence to support the finding, the punishments here imposed were an appropriate exercise of the state's power; in so far as these punishments constitute a restriction on liberty of expression, the public interest in that liberty was properly subordinated to the public interest in judicial impartiality and decorum. [2]

If the inference of conflict raised by the last clause be correct, the issue before us is of the very gravest moment. For free speech and fair trials are two of the most cherished policies of our civilization, and it would be a trying task to choose between them. But even if such a conflict is not actually raised by the question before us, we are still confronted with the delicate problems entailed in passing upon the deliberations of the highest court of a state. This is not, however, solely an issue between state and nation, as it would be if we were called upon to mediate in one of those troublous situations where each claims to be the repository of a particular sovereign power. To be sure, the exercise of power here in question was by a state judge. But in deciding whether or not the sweeping constitutional mandate against any law 'abridging the freedom of speech or of the press' forbids it, we are necessarily measuring a power of all American courts, both state and federal, including this one.

* It is to be noted at once that we have no direction by the legislature of California that publications outside the court room which comment upon a pending case in a specified manner should be punishable. As we said in Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 307, 308, 60 S.Ct. 900, 904, 905, 84 L.Ed. 1213, 128 A.L.R. 1352, such a 'declaration of the State's policy would weigh heavily in any challenge of the law as infringing constitutional limitations.' But as we also said there, the problem is different where 'the judgment is based on a common law concept of the most general and undefined nature.' Id., 310 U.S. at page 308, 60 S.Ct. at page 905, 84 L.Ed. 1213, 128 A.L.R. 1352. Cf. Herndon v. Lowry, 301 U.S. 242, 261-264, 57 S.Ct. 732, 740-742, 81 L.Ed. 1066. For here the legislature of California has not appraised a particular kind of situation and found a specific danger [3] sufficiently imminent to justify a restriction on a particular kind of utterance. The judgments below, therefore, do not come to us encased in the armor wrought by prior legislative deliberation. Under such circumstances, this Court has said that 'it must necessarily be found, as an original question' that the specified publications involved created 'such likelihood of bringing about the substantive evil as to deprive (them) of the constitutional protection.' Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, 671, 45 S.Ct. 625, 631, 69 L.Ed. 1138.

How much 'likelihood' is another question, 'a question of proximity and degree' [4] that cannot be completely captured in a formula. In Schenck v. United States, however, this Court said that there must be a determination of whether or not 'the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils.' We recognize that this statement, however helpful, does not comprehend the whole problem. As Mr. Justice Brandeis said in his concurring opinion in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 374, 47 S.Ct. 641, 648, 71 L.Ed. 1095: 'This court has not yet fixed the standard by which to determine when a danger shall be deemed clear; how remote the danger may be and yet be deemed present.' Nevertheless, the 'clear and present danger' language [5] of the Schenck case has afforded practical guidance in a great variety of cases in which the scope of constitutional protections of freedom of expression was in issue. It has been utilized by either a majority or minority of this Court in passing upon the constitutionality of convictions under espionage acts, Schenck v. United States, supra; Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 40 S.Ct. 17, 63 L.Ed. 1173; under a criminal syndicalism act, Whitney v. California, supra; under an 'anti-insurrection' act, Herndon v. Lowry, supra; and for breach of the peace at common law, Cantwell v. Connecticut, supra. And very recently we have also suggested that 'clear and present danger' is an appropriate guide in determining the constitutionality of restrictions upon expression where the substantive evil sought to be prevented by the restriction is 'destruction of life or property, or invasion of the right of privacy.' Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 105, 60 S.Ct. 736, 745, 84 L.Ed. 1093.

Moreover, the likelihood, however great that a substantive evil will result cannot alone justify a restriction upon freedom of speech or the press. The evil itself must be 'substantial', Brandeis, J., concurring in Whitney v. California, supra, 274 U.S. at page 374, 47 S.Ct. at page 647, 71 L.Ed. 1095; it must be 'serious', Id., 274 U.S. at page 376, 47 S.Ct. at page 648, 71 L.ed. 1095. And even the expression of 'legislative preferences or beliefs' cannot transform minor matters of public inconvenience or annoyance into substantive evils of sufficient weight to warrant the curtailment of liberty of expression. Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 161, 60 S.Ct. 146, 151, 84 L.Ed. 155.

What finally emerges from the 'clerk and present danger' cases is a working principle that the substantive evil must be extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high before utterances can be punished. Those cases do not purport to mark the furthermost constitutional boundaries of protected expression, nor do we here. They do no more than recognize a minimum compulsion of the Bill of Rights. For the First Amendment [6] does not speak equivocally. It prohibits and law 'abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.' It must be taken as a command of the broadest scope that explicit language, read in the context of a liberty-loving society, will allow.

Before analyzing the punished utterances and the circumstances surrounding their publication, we must consider an argument which, if valid, would destroy the relevance of the foregoing discussion to this case. In brief, this argument is that the publications here in question belong to a special category marked off by history, a category to which the criteria of constitutional immunity from punishment used where other types of utterances are concerned are not applicable. For, the argument runs, the power of judges to punish by contempt out-of-court publications tending to obstruct the orderly and fair administration of justice in a pending case was deeply rooted in English common law at the time the Constitution was adopted. That this historical contention is dubious has been persuasively argued elsewhere. Fox, Contempt of Court, passim, e.g., 207. See also Stansbury, Trial of James H. Peck, 430. In any event it need not detain us, for to assume that English common law in this field became ours is to deny the generally accepted historical belief that 'one of the objects of the Revolution was to get rid of the English common law on liberty of speech and of the press.' [7] Schofield, Freedom of the Press in the United States. 9 Publications Amer. Sociol. Soc., 67, 76.

More specifically, it is to forget the environment in which the First Amendment was ratified. In presenting the proposals which were later embodied in the Bill of Rights, James Madison, the leader in the preparation of the First Amendment, said: 'Although I know whenever the great rights, the trial by jury, freedom of the press, or liberty of conscience, come in question in that body (Parliament), the invasion of them is resisted by able advocates, yet their Magna Charta does not contain any one provision for the security of those rights, respecting which the people of America are most alarmed. The freedom of the press and rights of conscience, those choicest privileges of the people, are unguarded in the British Constitution.' 1 Annals of Congress 1789-1790, 434. And Madison elsewhere wrote that 'the state of the press * * * under the common law, cannot * * * be the standard of its freedom in the United States.' VI Writings of James Madison 1790-1802, 387.

There are no contrary implications in any part of the history of the period in which the First Amendment was framed and adopted. No purpose in ratifying the Bill of Rights was clearer than that of securing for the people of the United States much greater freedom of religion, expression, assembly, and petition than the people of Great Britain had ever enjoyed. It cannot be denied, for example, that the religious test oath [8] or the restrictions upon assembly [9] then prevalent in England would have been regarded as measures which the Constitution prohibited the American Congress from passing. And since the same unequivocal language is used with respect to freedom of the press, it signifies a similar enlargement of that concept as well. [10] Ratified as it was while the memory of many oppressive English restrictions on the enumerated liberties was still fresh, the First Amendment cannot reasonably be taken as approving prevalent English practices. On the contrary, the only conclusion supported by history is that the unqualified prohibitions laid down by the framers were intended to give to liberty of the press, as to the other liberties, the broadest scope that could be countenanced in an orderly society.

The implications of subsequent American history confirm such a construction of the First Amendment. To be sure, it occurred no more to the people who lived in the decades following Ratification than it wuold to us now that the power of courts to protect themselves from disturbances and disorder in the court room by use of contempt proceedings could seriously be challenged as conflicting with constitutionally secured guarantees of liberty. In both state and federal courts, this power has been universally recognized. See Anderson v. Dunn, 6 Wheat. 204, 227, 5 L.Ed. 242. But attempts to expand it in the post-Ratification years evoked popular reactions that bespeak a feeling of jealous solicitude for freedom of the press. In Pennsylvania and New York, for example, heated controversies arose over alleged abuses in the exercise of the contempt power, which in both places culminated in legislation practically [11] forbidding summary punishment for publications. See Nelles and King, Contempt by Publication, 28 Col.L.Rev. 401, 409 422.

In the federal courts, there was the celebrated case of Judge Peck, recently referred to by this Court in Nye v. United States, 313 U.S. 33, 45, 61 S.Ct. 810, 814, 85 L.Ed. 1172. The impeachment proceedings against him, it should be noted, and the strong feelings they engendered, were set in motion by his summary punishment of a lawyer for publishing comment on a case which was on appeal at the time of publication and which raised the identical issue of several other cases then pending before him. Here again legislation was the outcome, Congress proclaiming in a statute expressly captioned 'An Act declaratory of the law concerning contempts of court,' [12] that the power of federal courts to inflict summary punishment for contempt 'shall not be construed to extend to any cases except the misbehaviour of * * * persons in the presence of the said courts, or so near thereto as to obstruct the administration of justice * * *.' When recently called upon to interpret this statute, we overruled the earlier decision of this Court in Toledo Newspaper Co. v. United States, 247 U.S. 402, 38 S.Ct. 560, 62 L.Ed. 1186, in the belief that it improperly enlarged the stated area of summary punishment. Nye v. United States, supra. Here, as in the Nye case, we need not determine whether the statute was intended to demarcate the full power permissible under the Constitution to punish by contempt proceedings. But we do find in the enactment viewed in its historical context, a respect for the prohibitions of the First Amendment, not as mere guides to the formulation of policy, but as commands the breach of which cannot be tolerated.

We are aware that although some states have by statute or decision expressly repudiated the power of judges to punish publications as contempts on a finding of mere tendency to interfere with the orderly administration of justice in a pending case, other states have sanctioned the exercise of such a power. (See Nelles and King, loc. cit. supra, 536-562, for a collection and discussion of state cases.) But state power in this field was not test in this Court for more than a century. [13] Not until 1925, with the decision in Gitlow v. New York, supra, did this Court recognize in the Fourteenth Amendment the application to the states of the same standards of freedom of expression as, under the First Amendment, are applicable to the federal government. And this is the first time since 1925 that we have been called upon to determine the constitutionality of a state's exercise of the contempt power in this kind of situation. Now that such a case is before us, we cannot allow the mere existence of other untested state decisions to destroy the historic constitutional meaning of freedom of speech and of the press.

History affords no support for the contention that the criteria applicable under the Constitution to other types of utterances are not applicable, in contempt proceedings, to out-of-court publications pertaining to a pending case.

We may appropriately begin our discussion of the judgments below by considering how much, as a practical matter, they would affect liberty of expression. It must be recognized that public interest is much more likely to be kindled by a controversial event of the day then by a generalization, however penetrating, of the historian or scientist. Since they punish utterances made during the pendency of a case, the judgments below therefore produce their restrictive results at the precise time when public interest in the matters discussed would naturally be at its height. Moreover, the ban is likely to fall not only at a crucial time but upon the most important topics of discussion. Here, for example, labor controversies were the topics of some of the publications. Experience shows that the more acute labor controversies are, the more likely it is that in some aspect they will get into court. It is therefore the controversies that command most interest that the decisions below would remove from the arena of public discussion.

No suggestion can be found in the Constitution that the freedom there guaranteed for speech and the press bears an inverse ratio to the timeliness and importance of the ideas seeking expression. Yet, it would follow as a practical result of the decisions below that anyone who might wish to give public expression to his views on a pending case involving no matter what problem of public interest, just at the time his audience would be most receptive, would be as effectively discouraged as if a deliberate statutory scheme of censorship had been adopted. Indeed, perhaps more so, because under a legislative specification of the particular kinds of expressions prohibited and the circumstances under which the prohibitions are to operate, the speaker or publisher might at least have an authoritative guide to the permissible scope of comment, instead of being compelled to act at the peril that judges might find in the utterance a 'reasonable tendency' to obstruct justice in a pending case.

This unfocussed threat is, to be sure, limited in time, terminating as it does upon final disposition of the case. But this does not change its censorial quality. An endless series of moratoria on public discussion, even if each were very short, could hardly be dismissed as an insignificant abridgment of freedom of expression. And to assume that each would be short is to overlook the fact that the 'pendency' of a case is frequently a matter of months or even years rather than days or weeks. [14]

For these reasons we are convinced that the judgments below result in a curtailment of expression that cannot be dismissed as insignificant. If they can be justified at all, it must be in terms of some serious substantive evil which they are designed to avert. The substantive evil here sought to be averted has been variously described below. [15] It appears to be double: disrespect for the judiciary; and disorderly and unfair administration of justice. The assumption that respect for the judiciary can be won by shielding judges from published criticism wrongly appraises the character of American public opinion. For it is a prized American privilege to speak one's mind, although not always with perfect good taste, [16] on all public institutions. And an enforced silence, however limited, solely in the name of preserving the dignify of the bench, would probably engender resentment, suspicion, and contempt much more than it would enhance respect.

The other evil feared, disorderly and unfair administration of justice, is more plausibly associated with restricting publications which touch upon pending litigation. The very would 'trial' connotes decisions on the evidence and arguments properly advanced in open court. Legal trials are not like elections, to be won through the use of the meeting-hall, the radio, and the newspaper. But we cannot start with the assumption that publications of the kind here involved actually do threaten to change the nature of legal trials, and that to preserve judicial impartiality, it is necessary for judges to have a comtempt power by which they can close all channels of public expression to all matters which touch upon pending cases. We must therefore turn to the particular utterances here in question and the circumstances of their publication to determine to what extent the substantive evil of unfair administration of justice was a likely consequence, and whether the degre of likelihood was sufficient to justify summary punishment.

The Los Angeles Times Editorials. The Times-Mirror Company, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, and L. D. Hotchkiss, its managing editor were cited for contempt for the publication of three editorials. Both found by the trial court to be responsible for one of the editorials, the company and Hotchkiss were each fined $100. The company alone was held responsible for the other two, and was fined $100 more on account of one, and $300 more on account of the other.

The $300 fine presumably marks the most serious offense. The editorial thus distinguished was entitled 'Probation for Gorillas?'. After vigorously denouncing two members of a labor union who had previously been found guilty of assaulting non-union truck drivers, it closes with the observation: 'Judge A. A. Scott will make a serious mistake if he grants probation to Matthew Shannon and Kennan Holmes. This community needs the example of their assignment to the jute mill.' [17] Judge Scott had previously set a day (about a month after the publication) for passing upon the application of Shannon and Holmes for probation and for pronouncing sentence.

The basis for punishing the publication as contempt was by the trial court said to be its 'inherent tendency' and by the Supreme Court its 'reasonable tendency' to interfere with the orderly administration of justice in an action then before a court for consideration. In accordance with what we have said on the 'clear and present danger' cases, neither 'inherent tnedency' nor 'reasonable tendency' is enough to justify a restriction of free expression. But even if they were appropriate measures, we should find exaggeration in the use of those phrases to describe the facts here.

From the indications in the record of the position taken by the Los Angeles Times on labor controversies in the past, there could have been little doubt of its attitude toward the probation of Shannon and Holmes. In view of the paper's longcontinued militancy in this field, it is inconceivable that any judge in Los Angeles would expect anything but adverse criticism from it in the event probation were granted. Yet such criticism after final disposition of the proceedings would clearly have been privileged. Hence, this editorial, given the most intimidating construction it will bear, did no more than threaten future adverse criticism which was reasonably to be expected anyway in the event of a lenient disposition of the pending case. [18] To regard it, therefore, as in itself of substantial influence upon the course of justice would be to impute to judges a lack of firmness, wisdom, or honor, which we cannot accept as a major premise. Cf. Holmes, J., dissenting in Toledo Newspaper Co. v. United States, 247 U.S. 402, 424, 38 S.Ct. 560, 565, 62 L.Ed. 1186.

The other two editorials publication of which was fined below are set out in the lower margin. [19] With respect to these two editorials, there is no divergence of conclusions among the members of this Court. We are all of the opinion that, upon any fair construction, their possible influence on the course of justice can be dismissed as negligible, and that the Constitution compels us to set aside the convictions as unpermissible exercises of the state's power. In view of the foregoing discussion of 'Probation for Gorillas?', analysis of these editorials and their setting is deemed unnecessary.

The Bridges Telegram. While a motion for a new trial was pending in a case involving a dispute between an

Notes[edit]

^1  Bridges v. Superior Court, 14 Cal.2d 464, 94 P.2d 983; Times-Mirror Co. v. Superior Court, 15 Cal.2d 99, 98 P.2d 1029. In the Times-Mirror case, the affidavits of complaint contained seven counts, each based upon the publication of a different editorial. The Superior Court for Los Angeles County sustained a demurrer to two of the counts, and of the five remaining counts on which conviction rested, the California Supreme Court affirmed as to three, reversed as to two.

^2  See The Times-Mirror Co. v. Superior Court, supra, 15 Cal.2d at page 118, 98 P.2d at page 1040, where the following is quoted with approval: 'Liberty of the press is subordinate to the independence of the judiciary * * *.'

^3  Indeed, the only evidence we have of the California legislature's appraisal indicates approval of a policy directly contrary to that here followed by the California courts. For Section 1209, subsection 13, of the California Code of Civil Procedure (1937 Ed.) provides: '* * * no speech or publication reflecting upon or concerning any court or any officer thereof shall be treated or punished as a contempt of such court unless made in the immediate presence of such court while in session and in such a manner as to actually interfere with its proceedings.' The California Supreme Court's decision that the statute is invalid under the California constitution is an authoritative determination of that point. But the inferences as to the legislature's appraisal of the danger arise from the enactment, and are therefore unchanged by the subsequent judicial treatment of the statute.

^4  Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 52, 39 S.Ct. 247, 249, 63 L.Ed. 470.

^5  Restatement of the phrase 'clear and present danger' in other terms has been infrequent. Compare, however: '* * * the test to be applied * * * is not the remote or possible effect.' Brandeis, J., dissenting in Schaefer v. United States, 251 U.S. 466, 486, 40 S.Ct. 259, 266, 64 L.Ed. 360; '* * * we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.' Holmes, J., dissenting in Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630, 40 S.Ct. 17, 22, 63 L.Ed. 1173. 'To justify suppression of free speech there must be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the danger apprehended is imminent.' Brandeis, J., concurring in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 376, 47 S.Ct. 641, 648, 71 L.Ed. 1095. The italics are ours.

^6  'The freedom of speech and of the press secured by the First Amendment against abridgment by the United States is similarly secured to all persons by the Fourteenth against abridgment by a state.' Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 160, 60 S.Ct. 146, 150, 84 L.Ed. 155.

^7  Compare James Buchanan, quoted in Stansbury, Trial of James H. Peck, 434: 'At the Revolution we separated ourselves from the mother country, and we have established a republican form of government, securing to the citizens of this country other and greater personal rights, than those enjoyed under the British monarchy.'

^8  16 Geo. II, c. 30. This was not repealed until 1828. 9 Geo. IV, c. 17.

^9  1 Geo. I, stat. 2, c. 5. Cf. also 36 Geo. III, c. 8, and discussion in Buckle, History of Civilization in England, Vol. I, 351.

^10  Compare VI Writings of James Madison, 1790-1802, 389: 'To these observations one fact will be added, which demonstrates that the common law cannot be admitted as the universal expositor of American terms, * * * The freedom of conscience and of religion are found in the same instruments which assert the freedom of the press. It will never be admitted that the meaning of the former, in the common law of England, is to limit their meaning in the United States.' See also Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 716, 717, 51 S.Ct. 625, 631, 75 L.Ed. 1357; Thornhill v. Alabama, supra, 310 U.S. at page 102, 60 S.Ct. at page 744, 84 L.ed. 1093.

^11  The New York statute specifically made 'the publication of a false, or grossly inaccurate report' of court proceedings punishable by contempt proceedings, however. New York Rev.Stat.1829, Part III, c. III, tit. 2, art. 1, § 10(6). The Pennsylvania statute contained no such proviso. It explicitly stated that 'all publications out of court * * * concerning any cause pending before any court of this commonwealth, shall not be construed into a contempt of the said court, so as to render the author, printer, publisher, or either of them, liable to attachment and summary punishment for the same.' Pa.Acts 1808 1809, c. 78, p. 146.

^12  4 Stat. 487 (1831), 28 U.S.C.A. § 385.

^13  Patterson v. Colorado, 205 U.S. 454, 27 S.Ct. 556, 51 L.Ed. 879, 10 Ann.Cas. 689, the only case before this Court during that period in which a state court's power to punish out-of-court publications by contempt was in issue, cannot be taken as a decision squarely on this point. Cf.: 'We leave undecided the question whether there is to be found in the 14th Amendment a prohibition similar to that in the 1st.' Id., 205 U.S. at page 462, 27 S.Ct. at page 558, 51 L.Ed. 879, 10 Ann.Cas. 689.

^14  Compare Nelles and King, loc. cit. supra, 549: 'While the Sacco-Vanzetti case was in the courts (six years), it was not, we believe, suggested as desirable that public expression on either side be dealt with as contempts.' In public utility rate regulation, to take one of many examples that might be given of a field in which public interest is strong and public opinion divided, cases commonly remain 'pending' for several years. See St. Joseph Stock Yards Co. v. United States, 298 U.S. 38, 88-92, 56 S.Ct. 720, 741-743, 80 L.Ed. 1033; McCart v. Indianapolis Water Co., 302 U.S. 419, 435, 58 S.Ct. 324, 331, 82 L.Ed. 336.

^15  Cf.: '* * * said telegram * * * had, an inherent tendency * * * to embarrass and influence the actions and decisions of the judge before whom said action was pending.' Bridges v. Superior Court, supra, 14 Cal.2d at page 471, 94 P.2d at page 986. 'The published statement was not only a criticism of the decision of the court in an action them pending before said court, but was a threat that if an attempt was made to enforce the decision, the ports of the entire Pacific Coast would be tied up.' Id., 14 Cal.2d at page 488, 94 P.2d at page 995. '* * * the test * * * is whether it had a reasonable tendency to interfere with the orderly administration of justice * * *.' Times-Mirror Co. v. Superior Court, supra, 15 Cal.2d at pages 103, 104, 98 P.2d at page 1032. '* * * the editorial (had) * * * reasonable tendency * * * to interfere with the ordinary administration of justice.' Id., 15 Cal.2d at page 110, 98 P.2d at page 1035. The italics are ours.

^16  Compare the following statements from letters of Thomas Jefferson as set out in Padover, Democracy, 150-151: 'I deplore * * * the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write them. * * * These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste.

'It is however an evil for which there is no remedy, our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.'

^17  The whole editorial, published in The Los Angeles Times of May 5, 1938, was as follows:

'Two members of Dave Beck's wrecking crew, entertainment committee, goon squad or gorillas, having been convicted in Superior Court of assaulting nonunion truck drivers, have asked for probation. Presumably they will say they are 'first offenders,' or plead that they were merely indulging a playful exuberance when, with slingshots, they fired steel missiles at men whose only offense was wishing to work for a living without paying tribute to the erstwhile boss of Seattle.

'Sluggers for pay, like murderers for profit, are in a slightly different category from ordinary criminals. Men who commit mayhem for wages are not merely violators of the peace and dignity of the State; they are also conspirators against it. The man who burgles because his children are hungry may have some claim on public sympathy. He whose crime is one of impulse may be entitled to lenity. But he who hires out his muscles for the creation of disorder and in aid of a racket is a deliberate foe of organized society and should be penalized accordingly.

'It will teach no lesson to other thugs to put these men on good behavior for a limited time. Their 'duty' would simply be taken over by others like them. If Beck's thugs, however, are made to realize that they face San Quentin when they are caught, it will tend to make their disreputable occupation unpopular. Judge A. A. Scott will make a serious mistake if the grants probation to Matthew Shannon and Kennan Holmes. This community needs the example of their assignment to the jute mill.'

^18  Cf. Times-Mirror Co. v. Superior Court, supra, 15 Cal.2d at pages 109, 110, 98 P.2d at page 1035: 'The editorial may not have been intended, but it is capable of being construed, as a notice to the trial judge that no leniency should be extended to the convicted men, and, furthermore, that should the court act contrary to the suggestions contained in the editorial, it might well expect adverse criticism in the columns of The Times.' Although the foregoing statement was made with respect to another of the editorials, the opinion of the California Supreme Court later said it was applicable to 'Probation for Gorillas?'. Id., 15 Cal.2d at pages 114, 115, 98 P.2d at page 1038.

^19  The first of these editorials, entitled 'Sit-Strikers Convicted', was published in the Los Angeles Times of December 21, 1937, the day after the jury had returned a verdict that the 'sit-strikers' in question were guilty, and the day before the trial judge was to hold court for the purpose of pronouncing sentence, hearing motions for a new trial, and passing upon applications for probation. The editorial follows in its entirety:

'The verdict of a jury finding guilty the twenty-two sit-strikers who led the assault on the Douglas plant last February, will have reverberations up and down the Pacific Coast and in points farther east.

'The verdict means that Los Angeles is still Los Angeles, that the city is aroused to the danger of davebeckism, and that no kind of union terrorism will be permitted here.

'The verdict may have a good deal to do with sending Dave Beck back to Seattle. For, while the United Automobile Workers have no connection with Beck, their tactics and his are identical in motive; and if Beck can be convinced that this kind of warfare is not permitted in this area he will necessarily abandon his dreams of conquest.

'Already the united farmers and ranchers have given Beck a severe setback. The Hynes hay market is still free and it has been made plain that interference with milk deliveries to Los Angeles will not be tolerated.

'Dist. Atty. Fitts pledged his best efforts to prevent and punish union terrorism and racketeering in a strong radio address, and followed it up yesterday with a statement congratulating the jury that convicted the sit-downers and the community on one of the 'most farreaching verdicts in the history of this country.'

'In this he is correct. It is an important verdict. For the first time since the present cycle of labor disturbances began, union lawlessness has been treated as exactly what it is, an offense against the public peace punishable like any other crime.

'The seizure of property by a militant minority, which arrogated to itself the right of dictating not only to employers, but to other workers

who played ball with her. From small beginnings she utilized every opportunity to extned her influence and to put officeholders and promising political material under obligations to her. She became a power in the backstage councils of city and county affairs and from that place of strategic advantage reached out to pull the strings on State and legislative offices as well.

'Those were the days when Mrs. Werner was 'Queen Helen' and it is only fair to say that to her the power was much more important than the perquisites. When the inevitable turning of the political wheel brought new figures to the front and new bosses to the back, she found her grip slipping and it was hard to take. The several cases which in recent years have brought her before the courts to defend her activities seem all examples of an energetic effort to regain and reassert her onetime influence in high places. That it should ultimately have landed her behind the bars as a convicted bribe-seeker is not illogical. But if there is logic in it, the money meant less to Mrs. Werner than the name of still being a political power, one who could do things with public officials that others could not do. To herself at least she was still Queen Helen.'

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