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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 218308 Find in a Library
Title: Time, Place, and Manner: Controlling the Right to Protest
Journal: FBI: Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:76  Issue:5  Dated:May 2007  Pages:20-32
Author(s): Martin J. King J.D.
Date Published: May 2007
Page Count: 13
Document: HTML
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article explores recent court rulings concerning how to reconcile the need to keep public order and safety with the first amendment rights of people to protest.
Abstract: The first amendment guarantees Americans the right to publicly protest, but in a post-September 11th world, law enforcement officers are sensitive to the fact that protests can get out of hand, possibly affecting “the conduct of a government by mass destruction.” This type of action actually qualifies as an act of terrorism that requires a swift police response. As such, the dilemma of how to maintain public order and safety during a protest has been exacerbated by the current realties of living in a world with terrorism. Despite the protections offered by the first amendment, the Constitution does not guarantee Americans unlimited access to government property for expressive purposes. Moreover, although the Constitution protects free speech, it affords less protection to protest activities in public places than other forms of expression that do not involve conduct, such as those who communicate their ideas through “pure speech.” Therefore, the government has the right to regulate expressive conduct to ensure its reasonableness and safety. Restrictions to public protest generally fall into the categories of time, place, and manner restrictions that are based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s four-part test to determine the constitutional validity of time, place, and manner of expressive conduct in a public forum. The U.S. Supreme Court was clear, however, that any form of restriction on expressive conduct must not operate as a form of censorship. Several State and U.S. Supreme Court cases on the constitutionality of restrictions placed on expressive conduct in public protests are offered to illustrate the details of the Court’s opinion regarding the balance between the first amendment’s right to free speech versus the government’s right to ensure public safety and order. Endnotes
Main Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Freedom of speech
Index Term(s): Crowd control; State supreme courts; US Supreme Court decisions
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