Civil rights (6-22-42)

The Pittsburgh Press (June 22, 1942)

Background of news –
Civil rights

By editorial research reports

Questions of civil rights, in wartime, usually attract widespread public notice when they are concerned with such matters as treason, subversive activities and allegations of other “unpatriotic” offenses. However, a recent scrutiny of court records and news items reveals that more citizens are involved in cases which seek to establish certain rights as property owners, operators of businesses and means of livelihood, than in questions of freedom of speech, of free press and spectacular “personal liberty” issues.

“Rights” recently affirmed or denied by courts in a number of cities throughout the country include the following:

A man in Des Moines was denied the right to drive through a stop sign at a street intersection, even though there was no traffic in sight.

A resident of San Diego County, Cal., was denied the right to establish a “one-man cemetery” on his own property in a residential district, forbidden by the county zoning ordinance.

The right to operate a poolroom under the guise of a club was denied to a citizen of Laurel, Miss.

A defendant in Miamisburg, Ohio, stored paper, cardboard and rags on his premises, in violation of an anti-junk yard ordinance. The court ruled his arrest and conviction were “reasonable.”

The right to receive a pension was denied to the widow of a fireman in Springfield, Ill., on the ground that the marriage occurred after the man’s retirement.

The right of free speech was not denied to a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Rochester, NH, but he was convicted for using abusive words in a public place, addressed to the city marshal.

A street photographer in Los Angeles was denied the right to hand out order blanks after pictures were taken.

A magazine agent’s right to solicit business on private premises in Osceola, Iowa, was upheld, and a city ordinance which attempted to deny such a right was held unconstitutional.

Voters in New Orleans were denied the right to vote in any other manner than by the use of official voting machines.

The right to damages resulting from injuries suffered through broken sidewalks and public roadways was affirmed in Philadelphia and Miami Beach, Fla.

Two corporations in Florida found that they have no right to unregulated use of billboards for advertising purposes, and esthetics are recognized as a legitimate basis for reasonable regulation of private business and property in the interests of:

…the comfort, common good and general welfare of the public.

A per diem city employee of Philadelphia, injured while playing baseball at 7 p.m., was denied the right to disability benefits because he was not injured while in the employ of the city.

A corporation’s suit to set aside a special assessment levied for street-widening by the city of Syracuse, NY, was denied.

A citizen injured by a fall on an icy sidewalk in Kansas City collected from the city, despite an ordinance requiring owners to clear sidewalks. The court ruled that the primary duty of the city to keep its sidewalks safe could not be shifted to property owners by ordinance.

A defendant in New York State, engaged in a dredging operation in a residence section, sold the sand which was recovered, and was charged with violation of the zoning ordinance. The court held that he was engaged in “temporary” business in such sales, and that the ordinance was intended to apply only to permanent businesses.