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CITY BOSTON ET AL. v. ANDERSON ET AL.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: November 6, 1978.

CITY OF BOSTON ET AL
v.
ANDERSON ET AL.

Sup. Jud. Ct. Mass.

[ 439 U.S. Page 951]

Motion to vacate stay order heretofore entered by MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN on October 20, 1978, denied.

MR. JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom MR. JUSTICE STEWART and MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST join, dissenting.

Because the Court in practical effect has summarily reversed the unanimous holding of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on a question of Massachusetts law, it is appropriate to note my dissent. The highest court of the State held that a Massachusetts "municipality has no authority to appropriate funds for the purpose of taking action to influence the result of a referendum proposed to be submitted to the people at a State election."*fn1

 Unless state action has violated some federal law, a federal court has no power to compel a State to spend its money or to grant a political subdivision of the State authority which the State has withheld.*fn2 Federal questions may, of course, arise

[ 439 U.S. Page 952]

     when a State regulates the communicative activities of third parties, whether they be individuals or private corporations. Such questions may also arise if a State authorizes expenditures to advance or explain a particular point of view. But in this case we are merely confronted with "a State's determination to refrain from speech on a given topic or topics and to bar its various subdivisions from expending funds in contravention of that determination."*fn3 I consider it frivolous to suggest that the First Amendment, or any other provision of the United States Constitution, empowers this Court to interfere with that determination. I would therefore grant the motion to vacate the stay entered by MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN as Circuit Justice on October 20, 1978.


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