The Law School Authority

Frisby v. Schultz Case Brief

Summary of Frisby v. Schultz
487 U.S. 474 (1988)

Facts: Appellees strongly opposed abortion and they picketed outside the house of a doctor who performed abortions.  Even though the gathering was peaceful, but still the city received many complaints.  The city passed the following ordinance:  “It is unlawful for any person to engage in picketing before or about the residence or dwelling of any individual in the Town of Brookfield.”

Issue: Is the ordinance unconstitutional?

Holding: No

Rationale:  There are three type of properties in 1st Amendment cases: traditional public forum, the public forum created by government designation and nonpublic forum.  This case involved traditional public forum even though the street was residential.  Test:  For a state to enforce a content-based exclusion it must show that its regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn to achieve that end.  The State may also enforce regulations of time, place and manner of expression which are content- neutral, are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and leave open ample alternative channels of communication. In this case, the ordinance is content-neutral so the second test applies.  The ordinance is valid because it is narrowly tailored to serve a significant government purpose.  The ordinance only prohibits picketing that targets just one residence and invades the privacy of the inhabitants.  Furthermore, the ordinance leaves open ample alternative channels of communication because general picketing is not covered under the statute.

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