Virginia v. Hicks Case Brief

Summary of Virginia v. Hicks, 539 U.S. 113 (2003)

Facts: Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority owns and operates low income housing project. 1997 the city owned the streets within that project, but to curb crime the city conveyed the streets therein to RRHA by deed. RRHA the posted No Trespassing Signs and enacated a policy where police would provide a notice to nonresidents w/o legit business or social purpose. If nonresident returned after, they would be cited for Class 1 misdemeanor. Mr. Hicks was given notice and arrested twice. When he requested permission from the mgr, he was denied but he entered again and was arrested.

Issue(s): Whether the City of Richmond’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s trespass policy is facially invalid under the 1st Amendment’s overbreadth doctrine?

Holding: No, there is no evidence to support substantial overbreadth.

Procedure: Df was arrested and convicted of trespass. VA S Ct held policy vested too much discretion w/ mgr to determine if an individual’s presence was authorized and then she could prohibit speech based on her personal taste. Reversed. Commonwealth Appealed. USSCt Reversed and Remanded for other issues remaining.

Rule(s): 1st and 14th

Rationale: VA S Ct erroneously concluded that the RRHA’s unwritten policy prohibited speech that the mgr finds personally distasteful or offensive.

VA is free to decide whether the unwritten policy requirement that demonstrators and solicitors obtain advance permission and the policy providing that those on notice are subject to arrest, can be severed. VA decided they are not severable.

However, VA cannot decree that all of the policy’s components must fall by reason of the overbreadth doctrine UNLESS the trespass policy, taken as a whole, is substantially overbroad when viewed in relation to its plain legitimate sweep.

Hicks failed to show: this notice would be given to anyone engaged in protected speech; or that any 1st Amend activity falls outside the “legitimate business or social purpose[s]" that permits entry. Until a person rec’vs notice, entering for a 1st Amend purpose is not a trespass.

The provision permitting police to arrest does not violate the 1st Amend to those whose post notice entry is not for the purpose of engaging in protected speech. It is Hick’s non-expressive conduct–entry in violation of notice rule–not his speech that punishment was levied against.



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