Contempt-Conduct Tending To Defeat the Effect of Appeal Pending in Federal Circuit Court Held To Be Civil Contempt Even Though Not a Resistance to a Formal Court Order- Griffin v. County School Board

Appellants applied for an injunction in a federal district court in Virginia to prevent the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors from paying out tuition grants to parents whose children attended private segregated schools. The district court refused to issue the injunction, and the appellants appealed. They asked to have their appeal accelerated, but, since the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit was not then in session, the Chief Judge requested the Clerk of Court to ask the Board of Supervisors to stipulate that no tuition grants would be paid pending the appeal. The Board refused to make the stipulation. Instead, on the very day that the Chief Judge made his request, the Board substantially increased the amount of the tuition grants, and by nine o’clock the next morning it had distributed about $180,000 to white parents, most of whom cashed their checks at that time. In their appeal, appellants moved for an order that the Board show cause why it should not be cited for civil contempt, and for an order requiring the Board to restore the money distributed after the requested stipulation. The Court of Appeals directed the district court to enjoin the Board from paying any tuition grants to parents sending children to private segregated schools, but it remanded the question of contempt to the district court for further findings of fact. The district court found that the payments were not violative of any formal court order, and therefore dismissed the motion to order the Board to show cause. On appeal from this dismissal, held, reversed, two judges dissenting.