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and fined for a violation of the ordinance of her respective municipality. At the Bates trial evidence was offered to show that many former members of the local organization had declined to renew their membership because of the existence of the ordinance in question. Similar evidence was received in the Williams [522] trial, as well as evidence that those who had been publicly identified in the community as members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had been subjected to harassment and threats of bodily harm.”

On appeal the cases were consolidated in the Supreme Court of Arkansas, and, with two justices dissenting, the convictions were upheld. 229 Ark. 819, 319 S.W. 2d 37. The court concluded that compulsory disclosure of the membership lists under the circumstances was "not an unconstitutional invasion of the freedoms guaranteed. . ." but "a mere incident to a permissible legal result." 8 Because of the significant constitutional question involved, we granted certiorari. 359 U.S. 988.

Like freedom of speech and a free press, the right of peaceable assembly was considered by the Framers of our Constitution to lie at the foundation of a government [523] based upon the consent of an informed citizenry-a government dedicated to the establishment of justice and the preservation of liberty. U.S. Const., Amend. I. And it is now beyond dispute that freedom of association for the purpose of advancing ideas and airing grievances is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by the States. De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, 364; N.A.A.C.P. v. Ålabama, 357 U.S. 449, 460.

Freedoms such as these are protected not only against heavyhanded frontal attack, but also from being stifled by more subtle governmental interference. Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233; Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105; American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382, 402; N.A.A.C.P. v. Alabama, supra; Smith v. California, 361 U.S. 147. "It is hardly a novel perception that compelled disclosure of affiliation with groups engaged in advocacy may constitute [an] effective . . . restraint on freedom of association. . This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations. . . Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association,

5 For example, petitioner Bates testified: "Well, I will say it like this-for the past five years I have been collecting, I guess, 150 to 200 members each year-just renewals of the same people. This year, I guess I lost 100 or 150 of those same members because when I went back for renewals they said, 'Well, we will wait and see what happens in the Bennett Ordinance.'"

For example, a witness testified: "Well, the people are afraid to join, afraid to join because the people-they don't want their names exposed and they are afraid their names will be exposed and they might lose their jobs. They will be intimidated and they are afraid to join. They said, 'Well, you will have to wait. I can't do it.' They are afraid to give their-because they are afraid somebody, if their names are publicized, then they will lose their jobs or be intimidated or what-not."

For example, petitioner Williams testified: "Well, I have we were not able to rest at night or day for quite a while. We had to have our phone number changed because they call that day and night and then we they have found out the second phone number and they did the same way and they called me all hours of night over the telephone and then I had to get a new number and they have been trying to find out that one, of course. I would tell them who is talking and they have throwed stones at my home. They wrote me-I got a-I received a letter threatening my life and they threaten my life over the telephone. That is the way.'

8 The Arkansas Supreme Court construed § 2E of the ordinances as requiring disclosure "of the membership list." 229 Ark., at, 319 S.W. 2d, at 41.

particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs." N.A.A.C.P. v. Alabama, 357 U.S., at 462.

On the record it sufficiently appears that compulsory disclosure of the membership lists of the local branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would work a significant interference with the freedom of association of their members. There was [524] substantial uncontroverted evidence that public identification of persons in the community as members of the organizations had been followed by harassment and threats of bodily harm. There was also evidence that fear of community hostility and economic reprisals that would follow public disclosure of the membership lists had discouraged new members from joining the organizations and induced former members to withdraw. This repressive effect, while in part the result of private attitudes and pressures, was brought to bear only after the exercise of governmental power had threatened to force disclosure of the member's names. N.A.A.C.P. v. Alabama, 357 U.S., at 463. Thus, the threat of substantial government encroachment upon important and traditional aspects of individual fredom is neither speculative nor remote.

Decision in this case must finally turn, therefore, on whether the cities as instrumentalities of the State have demonstrated so cogent an interest in obtaining and making public the membership lists of these organizations as to justify the substantial abridgement of associational freedom which such disclosures will effect. Where there is a significant encroachment upon personal liberty, the State may prevail only upon showing a subordinating interest which is compelling. N.A.A.C.P. v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449. See also Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11; Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147; Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569, 74; Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105; Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158; Kovacs v. Cooper, 336 U.S. 77.

It cannot be questioned that the governmental purpose upon which the municipalities rely is a fundamental one. No power is more basic to the ultimate purpose and function of government than is the power to tax. See James v. Dravo Contracting Co., 302 U.S. 134, 150. Nor can it be doubted that the proper and efficient exercise of this [525] essential governmental power may sometimes entail the possibility of encroachment upon individual freedom. See United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22; Hubbard v. Mellon, 55 App. D.C. 341, 5 F. 2d 764.

It was as an adjunct of their power to impose occupational license taxes that the cities enacted the legislation here in question.10 But governmental action does not automatically become reasonably related to the achievement of a legitimate and substantial governmental purpose by mere assertion in the preamble of an ordinance. When it is shown that state action threatens significantly to impinge upon constitutionally protected freedom it becomes the duty of this Court to determine whether the action bears a reasonable relationship to the achievement of the governmental purpose asserted as its justification.

The cities do not challenge petitioners' right to raise any objections or defenses available to their organizations, nor do the cities challenge the right of the organizations in these circumstances to assert the individual rights of their members. Cf. N.A.A.C.P. v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, at 458-459.

10 See note 3, supra.

In this record we can find no relevant correlation between the power of the municipalities to impose occupational license taxes and the compulsory disclosure and publication of the membership lists of the local branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The occupational license tax ordinances of the municipalities are squarely aimed at reaching all the commercial, professional, and business occupations within the communities. The taxes are not, and as a matter of state law cannot be, based on earnings or income, but upon the nature of the occupation or enterprise conducted.

Inquiry of organizations within the communities as to the purpose and nature of their activities would thus appear to be entirely relevant to enforcement of the ordinances. Such an inquiry was addressed to these organizations and was answered as follows:

"We are an affiliate of a national organization seeking to secure for American Negroes their rights as [526] guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Our purposes may best be described by quoting from the Articles of Incorporation of our National Organization where these purposes are set forth as:

voluntarily to promote equality of rights and eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for their children, employment according to their ability, and complete equality before the law. To ascertain and publish all facts bearing upon these subjects and to take any lawful action thereon; together with any kind and all things which may lawfully be done by a membership corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York for the further advancement of these objects.'

"The Articles of Incorporation hereinabove referred to are on file in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Arkansas. In accord with these purposes and aims, [this] . . . Branch, NAACP was chartered and organized, and we are seeking to effectuate these principles within [this municipality]."


The municipalities have not suggested that an activity so described, even if conducted for profit, would fall within any of the occupational classifications for which a license is required or a tax payable. On oral argument counsel for the City of Little Rock was unable to relate any activity of these organizations to which a license tax might attach. And there is nothing in the record to indicate [527] that a tax claim has ever been asserted against either organization. If the organizations were to claim the exemption which the ordinance grants to charitable endeavors, information as to the specific sources and expenditures of their funds might well be a subject of relevant inquiry. But there is nothing to show that any exemption has ever been sought, claimed, or granted-and positive evidence in the record to the contrary.

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11 A "catch-all" provision of the Little Rock ordinance imposes an annual tax upon "[a]ny person, firm, or corporation within the City engaging in the business of selling any and all kinds of goods, wares, and merchandise, whether raw materials or finished products, or both, from a regularly established place of business maintained within the City The tax is measured by "the gross value of the average stock inventory for the preceding year," with a minimum of $25. It was conceded on oral argument by counsel for the City of Little Rock that this provision was inapplicable. No brief was filed nor oral argument made on behalf of the City of North Little Rock.

In sum, there is a complete failure in this record to show (1) that the organizations were engaged in any occupation for which a license would be required, even if the occupation were conducted for a profit; (2) that the cities have ever asserted a claim against the organizations for payment of an occupational license tax; (3) that the organizations have ever asserted exemption from a tax imposed by the municipalities, either because of their alleged nonprofit character or for any other reason.

We conclude that the municipalities have failed to demonstrate a controlling justification for the deterrence of free association which compulsory disclosure of the membership lists would cause. The petitioners cannot be punished for refusing to produce information which the municipalities could not constitutionally require. The judgments cannot stand.



We concur in the judgment and substantially with the opinion because we think the facts show that the ordinances as here applied violate freedom of speech and [528] assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment which this Court has many times held was made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, as for illustration in Jones v. Opelika, 316 U.S. 584, at 600, dissenting opinion adopted by the Court in 319 U.S. 103; Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, at 108; Kingsley Corp. v. Regents, 360 U.S. 684. And see cases cited in Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 529, at 530 (concurring opinion).

Moreover, we believe, as we indicated in United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41, 48, at 56 (concurring opinion), that First Amendment rights are beyond abridgment either by legislation that directly restrains their exercise or by suppression or impairment though harassment, humiliation, or exposure by government. One of those rights, freedom of assembly, includes of course freedom of association; and it is entitled to no less protection than any other First Amendment right as N.A.A.C.P. v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, at 460, and De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, at 363, hold. These are principles applicable to all people under our Constitution irrespective of their race, color, politics, or religion. That is, for us, the essence of the present opinion of the Court.

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