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In re Primus - Significance

court supreme association carolina


Edna Smith Primus


Supreme Court of South Carolina

Appellant's Claim

That the Disciplinary Board of the South Carolina Supreme Court, by issuing Primus a public reprimand, violated her First Amendment rights to freely engage in association as a political activity, as a cooperating lawyer with the ACLU.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Ray P. McClain

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Richard B. Kale, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of South Carolina

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (writing for the Court), John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William H. Rehnquist (William J. Brennan, Jr., did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

30 May 1978


The Court overturned the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court and determined that Primus acted within her rights to free association as a representative of the ACLU, and should not have been reprimanded for improper solicitation.

Related Cases

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Button, 371 U.S. 415 (1963).
  • United Transportation Union v. Michigan Bar, 401 U.S. 576 (1971).
  • Mine Workers v. Illinois Bar Association, 389 U.S. 217 (1994).

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan and Elder Witt. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
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