Doyle J. Thomas, L. W. Chase, Bertha Bruce, Lawrence George Campbell, Alexander Isaiah Dunlap, Julius Emanuel Adams and Arthur Pinchback, Jr. v. City of Danville (207 Va. 656)

This case developed out of the summer of 1963 protests in Danville, Virginia. The local judge, Archibald M. Aiken, issued a temporary restraining order against picketing, singing, and protesting in the public streets of Danville. The order was sweeping and detailed, covering all manner of public protest. Thomas, Chase, Campbell, Dunlap, and others led large protests despite the lower court injunction and were arrested along with over two hundred protestors in successive demonstrations from June to July 1963. When Aiken's sentences for violation of the injunction were appealed, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled this 1967 case that the restraining order's details were largely constitutional. A few exceptional restrictions were not, but the Court upheld the sentences. The Virginia justices wrote, "we think it is quite proper that persons be restrained from inciting others to mob violence or rioting, or violation of the law, and from participating in such conduct. The constitutional right of freedom of speech does not confer the right to persuade others to violate the law." Later in 1973 the cases were finally put to rest when defense motions to suspend sentences were heard. Because Judge Aiken died in 1971, Judge Glynn R. Phillips heard the cases. Despite the prosecution argument to hold the sentences, Phillips suspended the jail sentences but ordered payment of the fines. The case's tortured history and conflicting viewpoints deepened the disagreements in Danville over the events of 1963. City white officials considered their responses legal, restrained, justified, and reasonable. Danville's black citizens, on the other hand, saw these actions as part of a larger effort to use the law to perpetuate segregation. The criminalization of their form of protests was especially insulting and galling to these ministers. Aiken used an antebellum law passed in the wake of John Brown's raid to lock up protestors for inciting "the colored population to acts of violence or war against the white population." This more than anything signaled to black citizens the extent of his commitment to the racially segregated order. Danville's black leaders faced serious fines and jail sentences for violating Aiken's restraining order, and after years of litigation were only able to achieve some small measure of reduction in them. Litigation did little to resolve the fundamental disagreement about the constitutionality of Aiken's injunction, about protests and their relative lack of order and discipline, and about the appropriateness of the city's response.