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Supreme Court of the United States
December 15, 1958, Decided
[*202] [***223] Appellant, a Negro resident of Memphis, Tennessee, brought this class action in the Western Division of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, seeking a declaration as to his claimed constitutional right, and that of others similarly situated, to travel on buses within that City without being subjected, as required by Tenn. Code Ann., 1955, §§ 65-1704 through 65-1709, to segregated seating arrangements on account of race. An injunction against enforcement of this statute [*203] or any other method of state-enforced segregation on Memphis transportation facilities was also sought. Various officials and officers of the City of Memphis, the Memphis Street Railway Company, and one of that Company's employees were named as defendants. After a hearing a three-judge District Court, without reaching the merits, dismissed the complaint on the ground that no "actual controversy" within the intendment of the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U. S. C. § 2201, [****3] had been shown, in that appellant had ridden a bus in Memphis on only one occasion and had "boarded the bus for the purpose of instituting this litigation," and was thus not "representative of a class of colored citizens who do use the buses in Memphis as a means of transportation."
Of course, ] the federal courts will [***224] not grant declaratory relief in instances where the record does not disclose an "actual controversy." Public Service Comm'n v. Wycoff Co., 344 U.S. 237. In Maryland Casualty Co. v. Pacific Coal & Oil Co., 312 U.S. 270, 273, this Court said: "The difference between an abstract question and a 'controversy' contemplated by the Declaratory Judgment Act is necessarily one of degree, and it would be difficult, if it would be possible, to fashion a precise test for determining in every case whether there is such a controversy. Basically, the question in each case is whether the facts alleged, under all the circumstances, show that there is a substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment." In the present [****4] case we think that the record establishes the existence of an actual controversy which should have been adjudicated by the lower court.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
358 U.S. 202 *; 79 S. Ct. 178 **; 3 L. Ed. 2d 222 ***; 1958 U.S. LEXIS 3 ****
EVERS ET AL. v. DWYER ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE.
Disposition: Reversed and case remanded for further proceedings.
actual controversy, boarded, declaratory judgment, colored, buses, seat, transportation facilities, statute's validity, disabilities, adjudicated, instituting, three-judge, segregated, subjected, resident, arrest, intend, merits
Civil Procedure, Justiciability, Case & Controversy Requirements, Adverse Legal Interests, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Advisory Opinions, General Overview, Actual Controversy, Immediacy, Judgments, Declaratory Judgments, Federal Declaratory Judgments, Standing