First Amendment Sullivan/Outline

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First Amendment
Authors Kathleen M. Sullivan
Noah Raam Feldman
Text Image of First Amendment Law (University Casebook Series)
First Amendment Law (University Casebook Series)
Taught by
Taught at
Related course(s) Constitutional Law
NOTE: Page numbers are from full Sullivan & Gunther Con Law casebook.  Subtract 740 from given page numbers to get page numbers for Sullivan & Gunther 1st Amendment casebook.

Free Exercise[edit | edit source]

Rule for State and Local Governments[edit | edit source]

·        Rule for state and local governments (Smith): A neutral law of general applicability that burdens religious practices need not include religious exemptions; need only pass rational basis scrutiny

o   Exceptions (cases where strict scrutiny still applies):

§ (1) “Hybrid” cases: Cases involving other constitutional claims in addition to F/E (e.g., Yoder (education of one’s children), Sherbert (???), Cantwell (speech), Barnette (speech))

§ (2) Cases requiring court to make an individualized assessment in determining whether to grant individual exemptions: Cases requiring the court to make an individualized judgment about a particular ∆ and decide whether to grant an exemption to that individual only (e.g., Sherbert, RLUIPA)


§ (1) No need to balance religious claims against state interests: Under Sherbert, π required to show substantial burden on F/E, which requires court to determine the “centrality” of affected conduct to π’s religion

§ (2) Rule of law: Granting religious exemptions would mean that laws would apply differently to each person according to his or her religious belief; the rule of law would become a series of exemption

·        No man should be a “law unto himself”; “rule of law as a law of rules”

·        Granting religious exemptions makes the exempted party a “law unto himself” because the law at issue then applies to all but the exempted party

·        Those seeking religious exemptions from laws should look to the democratic process for protection, not the courts

o   Employment Division v. Smith (U.S. 1990, p.1276): π’s fired from job at drug rehab center for using peyote during religious sacrament, then denied unemployment benefits because they had been discharged for work-related “misconduct”

§ Distinguishing Sherbert (Scalia):

·        (1) All prior strict scrutiny F/E cases were “hybrid” cases involving other constitutional concerns

o   Feldman: The problem with this argument is that most F/E claims can also be interpreted to involve F/S claims

·        (2) Prior strict scrutiny F/E cases involved individualized judgments (that is, sought exemptions for individuals)

o   Feldman: The problem with this argument is that Smith also involved an individualized judgment — whether π’s had engaged in work-related misconduct

§ Concurrence (O’Connor): State did have a compelling interest in prohibiting peyote — preventing the physical harm that flows from drug use — so law survives strict scrutiny (no need to jettison Sherbert)

·        Feldman: Note that O’Connor conceptualizes the harm here in the abstract (drug use generally, as opposed to these particular πs’ drug use)

§ Dissent (Blackmun): Conceptualizes state’s interest here as refusing to make exception for ceremonial use of peyote; much narrower conceptualization than O’Connor’s (who conceptualizes the law at the broadest possible level by looking to its purposes rather than by looking to its application to the facts of this case)

·        NOTE: Court in O Centro Espirita Beneficente adopts something like Blackmun’s analysis: State must show compelling interest in the prohibiting the precise action π’s wish to engage in (in Beneficente, using particular type of hallucinogenic tea in sacrament services)

·        RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act): Statute Congress passed after Smith purporting to reinstate Sherbert as the law

o   Applies only to the federal government (see O Centro Espirita Beneficente), as its application to the states was struck down in City of Boerne

§ City of Boerne v. Flores (U.S. 1997, p.1284, 1289): RFRA struck down insofar as it applies to the states as a violation Congress’s 14th Amendment § 5 enforcement power; Court has power to interpret substantive guarantees of 14th Amendment (including DP), Congress can only act to remedy rights violations as defined by the Court

·        O’Connor (dissent): At time of Founding F/E was default position; individuals enjoyed F/E rights unless important state interests implicated.  Thus, Sherbert correct as a historical matter and neutral laws should create exemptions for F/E of religion

·        Scalia (majority): Law was understood at time of Founding as meant to preserve order (uniformity), so Smith correct and exemptions should come only from the legislature.  Also, O’Connor cites no examples of courts refusing to enforce a general law because of lack of exemptions

§ Feldman: RFRA is an interesting example of interest-group politics: right hated Smith because impacts religious exercise; left hated Smith because impacts minority groups; centrists probably liked Smith because like law and order, but no comparably powerful interest groups exist in center

·        Relation to Carolene Products fn. 4: RFRA purported to protect “discrete and insular” minorities, but is a minority that can get a law passed overwhelmingly really discrete and insular?

§ Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao Do Vegetal (U.S. 2006, p.1289): Court strikes down federal ban on hoasca — a hallucinogenic tea used for religious purposes by a small sect — because government failed to show compelling government interest in barring the tea’s sacramental use

·        RFRA good law as applied to federal government

o   RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act): Requires a compelling interest for denying F/E exemptions in prisons and zoning (i.e., Sherbert applies to zoning and prison populations, because exemption determinations in such cases always involve individualized assessments)

§ UPSHOT: When a religious group seeks a variance to a zoning ordinance, Sherbert applies (zoning board must show compelling interest and establish that no LRA exists if religious group can show burden on F/E)

§ Hesitancy to engage in centrality analysis: Under Smith’s reasoning, courts hesitant to second-guess claim that a practice is central to a religion (and thus law a substantial burden on that religion) even if such claim seems clearly ridiculous

·        Non-neutral laws (laws designed to encumber religious practices):

§ (a) Clear animus (Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye):  A law whose clear purpose (as evidenced either through express language or legislative history) is to infringe upon or restrict (i.e., suppress) practices because of their religion motivation is not governed by Smith, so can be upheld only if government shows law is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest (i.e., passes strict scrutiny)

·        NOTE: Facial neutrality not determinative

·        NOTE: As construed in Locke, Lukumi applies to cases where government action demonstrates animus toward religion

·        IMPORTANT: Unclear whether π must show substantial burden on F/E:

o   Argument that π must show burden (as in Sherbert: Smith only distinguished Sherbert as applied to neutral laws of general applicability, so Sherbert  still applies to non-neutral laws or laws not of general applicability

o   Argument that π need not show burden (unlike in Sherbert): Smith stands for proposition that courts should not inquire into the “centrality” of conduct to an individual’s F/E of religion, but centrality analysis is a necessary component of burden analysis, so court should refrain from burden analysis altogether post-Smith

§ Feldman: Ironically, under this, no-centrality-analysis view (the Scalian view), exemptions would be granted even where F/E not burdened at all, so long as law is non-neutral (animus-based); this result would be even more permissive than Sherbert, which at least requires that π show a burden

·        Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (U.S. 1993, p.1257): City of Hialeah passed ordinance barring ritual animal sacrifice (slaughter of animals for purpose other than consumption of food)

§ (b) No animus/denial of funding (Locke): No F/E violation; court not required under F/E Clause always to fund religious activities when it funds nonreligious activities

·        UPSHOT: There is “play in the joints” between the E/C and F/E Clauses; some actions permitted by the E/C are not required by the F/E Clause

o   Connection to Zelman: Constitution permits government funding of religion (under neutral programs operated through individual choice-making), but does not require such funding

§ SO, government can now do what it wants re: funding of religion

·        NOTE: Feldman points out that Locke isn’t actually a “no animus” case, b/c the Washington state constitutional provision (“Blaine amendment”) grew out of anti-Catholic bias

·        Locke v. Davey (U.S. 2004, p.1262): Washington state scholarship program permitted recipients to use scholarship to pursue any course of study except devotional theology; reason for exception was state constitutional provision that barred appropriation of public money for religious instruction

Rule for the Federal Government[edit | edit source]

·        Rule for the federal government (strict scrutiny) — assuming RFRA good law as applied to federal government: A law that (substantially) burdens a person’s F/E of religion can only be sustained where (1) the law serves a compelling state interest and (2) there is no less restrictive alternative for accomplishing that interest

o   (a) Financial pressure to violate one’s religious beliefs:

§ Sherbert v. Verner (U.S. 1963, p.1266): South Carolina law denied unemployment benefits to anyone who failed, “without good cause,” to accept suitable work when offered; 7th Day Adventist denied benefits when unable to find work because of unwillingness to work on Saturday

·        Holding: π’s F/E rights burdened because (i) denial of benefits essentially a fine and (ii) nonreceipt of exerted coercive pressure on her to violate her religious beliefs, and no compelling state interest here (avoiding fraud by refusing to permit benefits to workers unable to find work because of Saturday Sabbath existence not a compelling state interest) [CB: This seems more like an LRA problem than a compelling interest problem.]

·        Concurrence (Stewart): This case is indistinguishable from Braunfeld, which upheld Pennsylvania state laws requiring store to be closed on Sundays (“blue laws”)

o   How majority distinguishes Braunfeld: The law in Braunfeld was coercive, BUT there was a compelling state interest at issue — providing a uniform day of rest — that could be accomplished only by declaring Sunday to be a mandatory day of rest (i.e., no LRA)

o   Feldman: Note that the purported “coercion” in both cases is both indirect and financial: neither law requires the π to break his religious beliefs (by working or opening store on Saturday); rather, the argument is that financial pressure flowing from the statutes incentivizes the π’s to violate their religious beliefs

o   (b) Compulsory school attendance:

§ Wisconsin v. Yoder (U.S. 1972, p.1269): Court grants exemption from statute mandating high school attendance granted to Amish. Burden on Amish significant; state fails to show compelling interest in requiring education beyond 8th grade

o   (c) Military context: Military judgments that encumber F/E entitled to deference because of military’s interest in achieving uniformity (Goldman)

§ Goldman v. Weinberger (U.S. 1986, p.1272):

·        Stevens (concurrence): Parade of horribles: If exemption granted for yarmulkes, Court will be in position down the road of instantiating religious discrimination when down the road it (as it will have to) rules that turbans and dreadlocks are bannable

o   Denying religious exemptions to protect religious equality: Exemptions inevitably lead to case-by-case analysis, in turn leading to differential treatment or, in other words, religious discrimination

§ Connection to Frankfurter in Gobitis: Sacrifice some individual liberty for the good of the community (in this case, ensuring religious equality)

o   (d) If exemption is one that few people will seek, probably no compelling interest at sake (Bowen)

·        Government actions incidentally burdening religion (Bowen, Lyng)

o   Rule: F/E Clause not implicated (so no strict scrutiny) where government undertakes actions of its own that have an incidental burden on  (i.e., interfere with) religion but do not coerce (force) individuals to violate their religious beliefs

§ IMPLICATION: Where π merely asking government not to undertake some action, no F/E claim

§ NOTE: Remember that Sherbert holds that denial of rights or benefits enjoyed by other persons because of conflicts with religious beliefs constitutes impermissible coercion (unless serves compelling interest and no LRA available)

§ REASON: F/E Clause does not force government to act in ways that protect or advance individuals’ religious interests; rather, only regulates Congress’s power to coerce individuals to violate (act contrary to) their religious beliefs

§ Bowen v. Roy (U.S. 1986, p.1274): Couple with child named Little Bird of the Snow (LBOS) sue to prevent assignment of social security number to LBOS.

·        NOTE: Under Sherbert test, there’s a burden on religion, so law would have to be justified by compelling interest with no LRA BUT, because government action here relates only to an internal government procedure (no mandated conducted or penalty for inaction), F/E Clause not implicated.

o   1st Amendment does not require government to behave in ways that individuals believe will further their spiritual development

o   Were LBOS’s parents required to furnish LBOS’s SSN, that might constitute a F/E violation

·        Feldman: Maybe LBOS’s religion really is being affected here, and in any case this case seems not to protect the very values the F/E exists to uphold

§ Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Ass’n (U.S. 1988, p.1274): Native American tribe brings suit to block construction of road on land it deems sacred, loses because Court finds that construction of road would not coerce π’s into violating their religious beliefs (even though construction would have strong adverse affects on their ability to practice their religion)

·        Feldman: Note that if Court had come out other way, drastic consequences could have resulted inasmuch as all of the U.S. could potentially be characterized as sacred by Native Americans

o   This shows that deciding whether there is coercion goes to concerns about what would happen were the disputed conducted termed coercive

Religious Rites Subversive of Good Order[edit | edit source]

·        Religious rites subversive of good order (Reynolds)

o   Rule: Congress may regulate religious actions in violation of social duties or subversive of good order (Reynolds)

§ CONSEQUENCE: If the Court believes a religious act has a broad social effect, Congress may regulate it; laws may not interfere with religious belief and opinion, but may interfere with religious practices

·        Here, Lieber said marriage has social consequences, inasmuch as polygamy reinforces patriarchy while monogamy reinforces democracy

·        Connection to Gobitis: One person’s rights may have to give way to further the greater social good

§ NOTE: Reynolds still good law for the proposition that religious rites subversive of good order are not protected by F/E Clause

§ PROBLEM: The meaning of “exercise” in the 18th century encompassed religious rituals, which constitute more than mere opinion

o   Belief/action distinction: Government may not regulate belief, but may reach actions when subversive of good order (Reynolds)

o   Reynolds (U.S. 1878, p.1264):

§ Connection to Gobitis: Like the JW’s in Gobitis, the Mormons in Reynolds viewed the marriages at issue in religious terms

Law Burdening Free Exercise as Compelled Speech[edit | edit source]

·        Law burdening F/E as compelled speech

o   West Virginia v. Barnette (U.S. 1943, p.S-7):

§ Rule: The state may not compel a person to affirm something he does not believe (i.e., state may not compel speech)

·        “If there is a fixed start in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

·        Purpose of B/R was to place certain subjects beyond reach of majorities

§ Gobiits reframed as a F/S case

·        Question is not whether F/E rights implicated, but whether law may compel affirmation of what one does not believe

·        Case now about compelled speech, not whether to grant a religious exemption

·        Feldman: The rule in this case arguably could be applied to any situation where a school wants a student to say something he doesn’t believe (e.g., “Evolution is a true theory.”)

o   So, in seeking to limit the holding to avoid the problems Frankfurter identified in Gobitis (setting Court up as arbiter of legitimate religious belief), Jackson potentially opens the door to a number of equally problematic F/S claims

o   Minersville School District v. Gobitis (U.S. 1940, p.S-1):

§ NOTE: ∆’s envision this as a F/E claim not a F/S claim because they view the conduct at issue as religious, not expressive; for ∆, refusing to salute the flag is an exercise of their religion

·        Consequences of framing as a F/E claim:

o   Conflict thus becomes between two rights: (1) freedom of religious belief (“liberty of conscience”) and (2) right to self-government

o   PROBLEM: If right to self-government always implicated in conflicts over laws of general applicability (such as the one here), then conflicts over the exercise of rights are always implicated in civil liberties cases (and under Frankfurter’s principle of judicial restraint, the rights asserted will always lose)

·        Judicial restraint (Frankfurter’s theory of judicial review): Judiciary should defer to considered judgment of legislative branch (as in this case), because the legislature is the vehicle though which the people engage in self-government

o   When the right answer is not clear, it is best for the legislature to decide (again because the legislature is the vehicle of self-government)

o   IMPLICATION: For this view to work, the legislature must see itself as a protector of liberty

o   COUNTERARGUMENT: Perhaps judicial review is part and parcel of self-government

o   Contract theory of government as applied to judicial review: The people give up certain rights to enjoy the protection government affords.  This protection, in part, flows from the state’s power to provide for the national security, and national unity is tightly correlated to national security.  The statute in this case (requirement to salute flag) promotes national unity and thus implicates national security.

·        No religious exemption: Frankfurter refuses to grant exception to JW’s because:

o   (1) This would then force the Court to decide what is and is not a legitimate religion (which the Court should not be in the business of), and

o   (2) This would define legal rights according to membership in a religion

Free Speech[edit | edit source]

General Doctrinal Notes[edit | edit source]

·        If a restriction on speech is content-based (“content-discriminatory”), to be constitutional it must either (1) fall into one of the categories of “low-value” speech (fighting words, obscenity, libel, etc.) or (2) be narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest (i.e., pass “strict scrutiny”)

o   Chemerinsky: Content-neutral speech regulations are subject to “intermediate scrutiny”

o   CB: Support for this distinction can be found in R.A.V.

·        Vagueness (Chemerinsky p.941): A law is unconstitutionally vague if a reasonable person cannot tell what speech is prohibited and what is permitted

·        Overbreadth (Chemerinsky p.943): A law is unconstitutionally overbroad if (i) it regulates substantially more speech than the Constitution allows to be regulated, and (ii) a person to whom the law constitutionally can be applied can argue that it would be unconstitutional as applied to others

·        Infringements on speech: To raise a F/S claim, a π must show government action has infringed her freedom of speech.  The following constitute infringements on speech:

o   (a) Prohibitions on speech that authorize criminal punishment for violators

o   (b) Civil liability for speech, even in the context of civil litigation (e.g., NY Times)

o   (c) Prohibitions on compensation for expression

o   (d) Compelled speech (e.g., Barnette)

o   (e) Forced association (e.g., Abood, Johanns, Hurley; see Chemerinsky p.976–80)

o   (f) Unconstitutional conditions (e.g., LWV, Rust, Velazquez)

§ Unconstitutional condition doctrine (Chemerinsky p.980): Government cannot condition a benefit on the requirement that a person forgo a constitutional right

·        Corollary 1: Government may not deny a benefit to a person b/c that person exercises a constitutional right

·        Corollary 2: Government may not penalize a person who exercises his constitutional rights by withholding a benefit that would otherwise be available to that person

Rationales for Free Speech[edit | edit source]

·        The Marketplace of Ideas

o   Holmes (Abrams dissent): Skepticism (no absolute truth we can know)

§ Doubting premises: If you are certain of your power and your premises you should want to suppress speech, BUT we should doubt our premises and therefore not suppress speech

·        “Time has upset many fighting faiths”: To Holmes, this shows that the process of finding truth is more important (i.e., that one should believe more strongly in the process of finding truth) than the truth one chooses to believe

o   So for Holmes, the method is more important than the result; we should be more confident in the fact that truth will be found by fighting ideas out than in the truth of current beliefs

o   Abrams (dissent): “But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas . . . .”

·        Skepticism all the way down: Holmes’s general philosophy was that life is a series of probabilistic judgments: “Every year we eager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge”

o   Pragmatism: Because we cannot ultimately know the truth, we can only run our lives based on bets (we make our bets and then live by them)

o   Fatalism: If U.S. destined to become Communist, so be it; the only way to find out is to “run the experiment” (allow the speech to battle) and see what happens

§ Best test of truth is acceptance in the market (Abrams (dissent)): “The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”

·        I.e., the only way to know whether an idea is true is to see how it plays out

§ Governmental viability: Government should conform to the ideas of truth that win in the marketplace of ideas, because those are the only ideas that government (at least in democracy form) safely may carry out (without fear of incurring the people’s anger)

o   Milton: The truth will prevail (there is an absolute truth we can know)

§ Truth will always win out against falsehood, so no reason not to permit F/S (religious justification for F/S)

§ Falsehood thus not that dangerous

o   Mills (On Liberty): F/S necessary both to find the truth and root out the falsehood of ideas (there is an absolute truth we can know)

§ Truth through conflict: Even right ideas may have some element of wrong and even some wrong ideas may have some element of right, and the only way to find the “wrong” in “right” ideas and the “right” in “wrong” ideas is for those ideas to fight it out

§ Achieving buy-in: Absent debate, people will not necessary believe the predominant idea is true, but rather only that other people believe it is true

o   PROBLEMS (“market failures”)

§ Market distortions: Marketplace of ideas rationale premised on notion that people evaluate (and adopt) ideas rationally.  Thus, things that lead people to act irrationally (e.g., eloquence, violence) distort the marketplace of ideas

·        Eloquence may hinder rational evaluation of ideas: “Eloquence may set fire to reason.” (Gitlow, Holmes dissent)

·        Violence may also distort the market (hence the c/p danger test)

§ Externalities: Speech may impose costs on the world that the speaker does not bear himself (e.g., Forsyth County)

·        In a real market regulators might seek to create rules that would require speakers to internalize the costs they produce; not so in the marketplace of ideas

§ Information asymmetries: Well-functioning marketplace requires accurate information, but information about certain ideas may not be fully accurate

·        The solution, at least in NY Times, is to free the media to check information

·        Civic Republicanism (Brandeis in Whitney (concurrence))

o   Duty to participate in public life: Public participation in political life is a fundamental principle of American self-government and is a duty (not just a right) of all citizens

§ So, political speech deserves robust protection

§ “Public discussion is a political duty.”

o   Political justification for F/S: The state exists to promote the good life, and F/S is a constituent (necessary) aspect of a well-functioning republic (without F/S and assembly public discussion would be futile

§ The reason to have free government in the first place is to enable citizens to participate in government

§ “Men feared witches and burned women.”

§ “The remedy for bad speech is more speech.”

§ Under this view, “core” political speech should receive the highest protection (e.g., Cohen)

o   Difference from Holmes:

§ Holmes verges on nihilism — no way to know truth, whereas Brandeis believes the republic is the best form of government and F/S is a constituent aspect of a well-functioning republic

§ Holmes is cynical and has little respect for individuals as individuals, whereas Brandeis is idealistic and believes the state exists to promote the good life of its citizens

§ Test for when speech can be suppressed:

·        Holmes: When speech interferes with the mechanism of the market

·        Brandeis: When speech creates danger of imminent, serious harm such that there is no opportunity for discussion

§ Purpose of F/S:

·        Holmes: Mechanism for recognizing the truth

·        Brandeis: Enabling liberty and responsible, democratic government

·        First Amendment Absolutism (Black):

o   1st Amendment rights should receive preferred status

o   Feldman: Today, Black’s absolutism helps groups like the Klan

Incitement to Violence/Unlawful Conduct[edit | edit source]

·        Old Test (“Clear and Present Danger”) (Schenck, Holmes): Whether the words are (i) used in such circumstances and (ii) are of such nature as to (iii) create a clear [probable] and present [imminent] danger that they will (iv) bring about the substantive evils Congress has a right to prevent

o   Circumstances matter: “The character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done.” (Schenck)

§ “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” (Schenck)

§ What Schenck ∆’s said normally would have been within their constitutional rights, but it was WWI.

§ Hint in Frohwerk that “flame” that could have been kindled could have been quite strong

o   Proximity (probability) matters:

§ “It is a question of proximity and degree.” (Schenck)

§ “On this record it is impossible to say that it might not have been found that circulation of the paper was in quarters where a little breath would be enough to kindle a flame[,] and that fact was known and relied upon by those who sent the paper out.” (Frohwerk)

·        Attenuation in Gitlow: “A single revolutionary spark may kindle a fire that, smoldering for a time, may burst into a sweeping conflagration.”

§ “[T]he opposition was so expressed that its natural and intended effect would be to obstruct recruiting.  If that was intended and if, in all the circumstances, that would be its probable effect it would not be protected by reason of its being part of a general program and expressions of a general and conscientious belief.” (Debs)

§ Abrams (Holmes dissent): “silly leaflet by unknown man,” as opposed to the speech by a famous man in Debs; probability that leaflet would have any great effect extremely low

·        Imminency: Government should only be able to punish speech that so “imminently threatens immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.”

§ Gitlow (majority): Where legislature determines that speech of a certain kind involves a danger so grave that the speech must be punished, all a jury must decide is whether the ∆ engaged in the prohibited speech (no requirement that ∆’s utterance actually bring about the feared danger)

·        That is, if Congress makes the probabilistic judgment in the statute itself, so long as statute itself is constitutional — and “every presumption is to be indulged in favor of the validity of the statute” (i.e., rational basis review applies)— all speech falling within that statute may be restricted

o   No requirement that danger be imminent if legislature made probabilistic judgment in statute that speech advocating forceful overthrow of the government presents a sufficient danger of substantive evil Congress has power to prevent

·        Dissent (Holmes): Where there is no incitement to imminent revolution, no present danger

o   “It is said that this manifesto was not a theory, that it was an incitement.  [But] Every idea is an incitement.”

o   Holmes’s test: If there is likely to be an immediate conflagration, state may step in, but if the danger is remote the state should lead the battle of ideas play out

§ That is, c/p danger test should only apply to situations where the marketplace of ideas is not working properly because of the threat of violence, where regulation of speech necessary to avoid market failure

§ PROBLEM: This seems to suggest that the government may not regulate harmful speech until it is too late

§ Whitney (Brandeis concurrence): Only an emergency can justify repression; must be a probability of serious evil that will befall before opportunity for full discussion can occur

·        Note that Brandeis here brings in notion of magnitude of harm as well imminence and magnitude of harm

§ NOTE: Probabilistic determination given to judge

§ NOTE: The idea that F/S rests on probabilistic judgments ties in closely to Holmes’s philosophy of the 1st Amendment and of life more generally, that life is based upon probabilistic judgments

o   Intent may matter:

§ Debs suggests that intent matters (see above); same with Frohwerk (see above)

§ Abrams (majority): Intent = likely effect: Upholds conviction where ∆ published circular opposing US involvement in Russian Revolution; no evidence ∆’s actually intended to impede US WWI effort; rather, that was a likely effect of their conduct

·        Holmes (Abrams dissent): “Intent” (in Espionage Act) should mean “with the specific purpose to,” not “with knowledge that the likely effect would be”

o   “[W]hen words are used exactly, a deed is not done with intent to produce a consequence unless that consequence is the aim of the deed.”

o   Magnitude of threatened harm: Unclear if matters:

§ Whitney (Brandeis concurrence): Even imminent danger cannot justify suppression of free speech, “unless the evil apprehended is relatively serious.”

·        “Only an emergency can justify repression.”

o   Results do not matter

§ Thus, punishment rests on how probable the bad result is, not whether the bad result actually occurred

·        A results-oriented view might suggest that absence of harm indicates the probability of harm was very low

o   Schenck (U.S. 1919, p.754): Conviction of ∆’s for publishing circular opposing draft upheld

o   Frohwerk (U.S. 1919, p.755): Publishers of German language newspaper that contained articles critical of WWI convicted under 1917 Espionage Act

o   Debs v. U.S. (U.S. 1919, p.756): Eugene V. Debs gives speech at state Socialist Party convention, implying opposition to the war and that hearers should oppose (and resist registering for) the draft

o   Abrams v. U.S. (U.S. 1919, p.758): ∆ published circular encouraging opposition to US involvement in Russian Revolution (during WWI), including production of war materiel.  Conviction upheld because effect would be to hinder US war effort

o   Gitlow v. New York (U.S. 1925, p.768): ∆ charged with violating criminal anarchy statute for publishing two left-wing manifestos

o   Whitney v. California (U.S. 1927, p.772): ∆ went to state Socialist convention.; convention split resulted in formation of more militant group.  ∆ arrested for criminal syndicalism

§ Concurrence (Brandeis): Only an emergency can justify repression: Must be a probability of serious evil that will befall before opportunity for full discussion can occur

·        Dennis test (Dennis) — (the “risk formula” approach): Whether the (i) gravity of the evil (ii) discounted by its improbability (iii) justifies such invasion of free speech as is necessary to avoid the danger

o   NOTE: Note similarity to Learned Hand negligence test (BPL)

o   Proximity (imminence/probability of success) deemphasized

§ REASON: (i) Imminence/immediacy really just a proxy for likelihood (probability), (ii) 1st Amendment shouldn’t turn on time, and (iii) incitement does not require immediate effect

·        BUT: Maybe immediacy is only sure proxy for probabilistic judgments

·        RESPONSE: (i) Hard to say final actor greater causal contributor than earlier actor; absent preexisting social conditions underlying the incitement, violence will not actually occur.  (ii) Perhaps immediacy is about ease of prevention, i.e., if violence is not imminent it may be easier to prevent by other means than shutting up speaker

§ UPSHOT: Where potential harm is great enough, harm need be neither clear (probable) nor present (imminent) for government to be able to punish the speech

o   Concurrence (Frankfurter): Court should uphold legislative judgments that are reasonable (defer to legislature)

§ Judicial restraint: Court should set aside a legislative judgment only where there is no reasonable basis for the judgment

·        REASON: Institutional competence; legislature better equipped to make policy judgments

§ Brandeis (Whitney) [CB: Sanford (Gitlow)]: A legislative determination should create a rebuttable presumption that clear danger was imminent and substantial enough to justify the restrictions imposed by the legislature

·        Accord Whitney (majority)

o   Concurrence (Jackson): C/P danger test should not be applied to revolutionary activities, because test too permissive

§ REASON: WWII demonstrated the efficacy of revolutionary techniques when used by totalitarian parties (see Nazis and the Weimar Republic); government must have the capacity to squelch revolutionary speech early on (before it’s too late), and c/p danger test does not permit this

·        C/P danger test was devised for situations like a hotheaded street corner orator or a distributor of incendiary pamphlets, not an organized party seeking to overthrow the government (or direct advocacy of crime)

o   Dissent (Black): No c/p danger here

o   Dissent (Douglas):

§ Preferred rule: There should have to be an immediate danger likely to occur before speech can be curtailed

§ External vs. internal threats: Communism may be a threat externally, but the Communist Party within the U.S. is weak and poses no immediate danger (“miserable merchants of unwanted ideas”)

o   Dennis v. U.S. (U.S. 1951, p.778): ∆’s convicted under Smith Act for teaching pro-Communist materials and conspiring to organize the Communist Party of the U.S. (a group the government claimed taught and advocated the overthrow of the U.S. government)

·        Current test (Brandenburg): State may only prohibit speech advocating unlawful conduct where such speech is (i) directed to (ii) inciting or producing (iii) imminent (iv) lawless action and is (v) likely to incite or produce such action

o   How different from Dennis:

§ (1) Imminence requirement returns, but as an even higher standard because imminence must now be imminence of lawless action

§ (2) Magnitude of harm irrelevant

§ (3) Intent clearly required: “Directed to incite”

o   UPSHOT: This test is very speech-protective, so today government uses conspiracy (and aiding-and-abetting) liability to fight criminal organizations rather than prohibiting speech directly

§ Test protects advocacy, (i.e., mere advocacy of unlawful conduct does not violate test), but not incitement

o   Brandenburg v. Ohio (U.S. 1969, p.785): Klan members videotaped by local news media stating racist views, implying threats if “suppression” of whites does not end, and announcing marches

·        Alternative Test: Learned Hand Test — Direct Advocacy (Masses)

o   Test: So long as there is no direct advocacy of resistance to recruitment and enlistment, no violation of Espionage Act

§ Incitement violates Espionage Act, agitation does not

·        Incitement:  “To counsel or advise a man to act is to urge upon him either that it is (i) his interest or (ii) his duty to do it”; if one stops short of such incitement there is no violation

§ PRINCIPLE: Look at what the words say (content) rather than speculating about their consequences (avoid probabilistic judgment)

·        Textualist, rather than consequentialist: “Words carry the meaning they impart.”

·        Words are what matters, not context

·        If you’re going to convict someone for his words, his words are what you should look at

·        Alternative principle might be something akin to the rule of lenity: read the statute narrowly to avoid unjust convictions

§ How differs from Holmes:

·        Context: Holmes focuses fundamentally on context (circumstances, probability), because believes meaning of language depends on context

·        Probabilistic judgments: Hand wants to avoid probabilistic judgments out of concern that probabilistic judgments lead to suppression of free speech (and so wants bright-line rule focusing on words (content), not consequences); Holmes believes probabilistic judgments are always necessary

o   Feldman suggests that when we think about law we care about consequences (real-world effects), so perhaps probabilistic judgments should matter

o   Masses Publishing Company v. Patten (S.D.N.Y. 1917, p.764): ∆’s published revolutionary magazines and cartoons

§ NOTE: This is a statutory, not a constitutional case, because Schenck was the first time the Court applied 1st Amendment to F/S cases [CB: Is this right?]

Fighting Words[edit | edit source]

·        Definition of “fighting words” (Chaplinsky): “[T]hose which by their very utterance (i) inflict injury or (ii) tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” (e.g., epithets, personal abuse)

o   Rule: Not protected by 1st Amendment

§ REASON: Fighting words so bound up with action (incitement) that more like action than speech

o   Rule: Fighting words exception limited to words directed at the “person of the hearer,” not the world at large (and likely to provoke a violent response) (Cohen)

·        Cantwell v. Connecticut (U.S. 1940, p.S-15): ∆ JW proselyting in heavily Catholic New Haven neighborhood with anti-Catholic recording; played recording; received threats; left street.  ∆ arrested for not having permit to solicit money.  Held, ∆’s speech protected because no intent to incite violence (also, no c/p danger of riot, disorder, or immediate threat to public peace) (cf. Brandenburg)

o   NOTE: First case where F/E Clause incorporated against the state

o   NOTE: Like Gobitis and Barnette, this case is both a F/S and a F/E case

§ Feldman: Really, the only part of F/E jurisprudence that cannot be characterized as F/S is religious exemptions

·        Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (U.S. 1942, p.792): ∆ JW arrested for after calling city marshal as “racketeer” and “fascist.” Court upholds conviction because ∆ directed insults at particular person

o   Categories of speech not protected by 1st Amendment (Chaplinsky):

§ (1) Lewdness, obscenity, and profanity

§ (2) Child pornography (Reno)

§ (3) Libel (accord Beauharnais)

§ (4) Fighting words

§ (5) True threats (see Black) (statements communicating intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals; the speaker need not actually intent to carry out the act)

§ REASON: “Such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.”

·        Balancing test: (i) no part of exposition of ideas; (ii) of such slight social value as step to truth that (iii)any benefit outweighed by social interest in order and morality

·        Cohen v. California (U.S. 1974, p. 795): Man wears shirt saying “Fuck the Draft” in Los Angeles municipal courthouse; arrested for disturbing the peace/disorderly conduct.  Conviction reversed.  Profanity not directed to any one person, so fighting words doctrine does not apply.

o   NOTE: Not obscenity case because obscenity deals with sex

o   NOTE: ∆ here trying to disrupt the social order; note that under Chaplinsky the state’s interest in preserving order is relevant to whether fighting words should be protected

o   NOTE: Situation here implicates “core” political speech, not merely personal expression

o   Public decorum: Rule: Violation of community standards of decency is insufficient grounds to restrict free expression in a public area.

§ REASON: (i) 1st Amendment not designed to protect people from discomfort based on exposure in public to speech with which they disagree — indifferent to sensitivities of those who might be offended; (ii) concern that suppressing particular words will lead to suppression of ideas

·        “One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”

§ To stop speech solely to protect others from hearing it requires showing that substantial privacy interests are being invaded by the speech in an “essentially intolerable manner” (e.g., sound truck blasting into one’s home)

Heckler’s Veto/Hostile Audiences[edit | edit source]

·        Heckler’s veto/hostile audiences: Court generally tries to avoid situation where the power to ascertain the legality of speech rests in the hands of the addressee.  That is, legality of speech should not depend on the power of a third party to injure the speaker

o   General rule: Speech cannot be restricted merely for “inviting dispute” (Terminiello), but can be restricted if speaker undertakes incitement to riot (Feiner)

§ To be restricted, speech must produce a clear and present danger of “serious substantive evil” rising far above public inconvenience or unrest (Terminiello); there must be “imminence of greater disorder” (Feiner)

o   Difference from fighting words:

§ (1) Fighting words are offensive b/c of the form they take; heckler’s veto/hostile audience cases, however, may arise either b/c the form of the message provokes the audience (similar to fighting words cases) or b/c the message itself provokes the audience

§ (2) Heckler’s veto/hostile audience cases apply balancing tests, not categorization

o   Footing the bill for police protection: A locality may not impose a fee on a speaker because of the reactions the speaker’s speech may cause (Forsyth County)

§ Connection to Black (dissent) in Feiner: The burden of managing the costs of racist speech rest on society as a whole (the state) rather than the speaker

·        Feldman: What about the argument that this is actually subsidization of hate speech?

§ Connection to marketplace of ideas: The rule here means that speakers are not required to internalize that costs (externalities) of their speech; strong free market view

·        Free speech as public good: Government does not impose variable costs for the exercise of  a public good; thus, if free speech is a public good, a person should not be required to pay more to enjoy it simply b/c he lives in a particular jurisdiction (e.g., Forsyth County)

o   Why free speech is a public good: (a) Nonrival (many can use it at once) and (b) nonexclusive (cannot bar some people from it without barring all people from it)

§ NOTE: State not prohibited from imposing any regulations on public speech: Neutral time, place, and manner restrictions are permissible

o   Terminiello v. Chicago (U.S. 1949, p.799): Priest with anti-Semitic views lecturing in Chicago; there are demonstrations both inside and outside the lecture hall; statute under which ∆ convicted, which bars speech that “invites dispute,” struck down

o   Feiner v. New York (U.S. 1951, p.800): ∆ gives speech saying blacks should assert their rights; crowd member says to police officer that if he doesn’t remove ∆ he would himself; officer arrests ∆; conviction upheld because ∆’s speech was engendering a tendency to riot

§ Dissent (Black): Police officer’s duty here was to protect the speaker by controlling the crowd rather than to shut down the speech

·        Two ways to stem disorder: (i) Stop speaker or (ii) control crowd.

·        Problem of cost (cf. Forsyth County): Far cheaper for police to stop speaker than to engage in crowd control, but society should shoulder the cost of protecting speech, even when that speech is likely to lead to disorder or violence

o   Feldman: Should it make a difference whether the crowd is being riled up for or against the speaker?

o   Forsyth City v. Nationalist Movement (U.S. 1992, p.804): County ordinance imposed fee of $1000/day to cover any public cost that “exceeds the usual and normal cost of law enforcement.”   Racist group wants to demonstrate, assessed $100 fee for police protection

§ Problem with ordinance was that it left unbridled discretion in hands of county administrator in deciding whether and what sizes fees to assess (administrator not required to give explanation for his decision, and his decision is unreviewable); could use ordinance to encourage some views and discourage others

Hate Speech[edit | edit source]

·        Feldman: Our 1st Amendment doctrine treats hate speech (at least racist hate speech) as political speech

·        Hate speech as group libel: In Beauharnais the Court upheld a group libel statute, although following Brandenburg and Cohen (and maybe NY Times?) Beauharnais not considered good law (see Skokie Cases)

o   Should hate speech be group libel?

§ Yes (Frankfurter): Racist/hate speech is scurrilous and false so should be banned like libel

·        Racist speech is just like libel because all it is intended to do is make the subject of the speech look bad

·        Waldron: The purpose of laws against group libel is to protect the status (“elementary social dignity”) of vulnerable social groups; group libel affects standing in the community just as does individual libel

·        European approach: Racism is a political idea, but its externalities are so great that it should be prohibited

§ No (Black): Racist/hate speech is political speech

·        Libel laws chip away at areas protected by 1st Amendment

·        Also, libel laws are only passed and upheld to the extent they benefit the majority by avoiding social unrest; risky to place power to define and enforce laws against impermissible ideas with the majority

o   Beauharnais v. Illinois (U.S. 1952, p.805): Illinois had criminal libel law prohibiting publishing and selling materials portraying depravity of persons on account of race or religion.  Court (Frankfurter) upholds group libel law.

§ NOTE: Frankfurter reads falsehood requirement into statute because at common law, truth was a defense to libel

o   Skokie cases (1977, 1978, pp.825, 826): Four key points:

§ (1) Marches ultimately allowed to go forward

§ (2) Courts suggested that after Brandenburg Beauharnais no longer good law (after Brandenburg government must show either imminent violence or incitement to imminent violence)

§ (3) Came to stand for proposition that F/S requires government to permit Nazis to parade in Jewish neighborhoods

§ (4) Feldman: Everybody lost

·        Rule: Content-based distinctions impermissible even for speech that is not protected by the 1st Amendment (e.g., libel, obscenity, fighting words), so strict scrutiny applies (R.A.V.)

o   That is, government may not engage in content-based discrimination even for proscribable categories of speech

§ Test (strict scrutiny): Is the content-based discrimination (i) narrowly tailored to fit a (ii) compelling state interest?

§ CRITICISM (White, R.A.V. concurrence): This rule makes no sense: if speech is unprotected by the 1st Amendment, how can it then be protected by the 1st Amendment?

o   Exceptions (R.A.V.)

§ (1) Where the basis for the content discrimination consists entirely of the very reason the entire class of speech is proscribable

·        E.g., can ban just the most obscene speech or the most threatening words (as the most extreme version of the class of proscribable speech)

·        Quantity/quality distinction: Court can examine content so long as measuring quantity (how much) rather than quality (what it is)

o   Thus, state may bar action done to intimidate but may not bar action done to intimidate only on the basis of certain characteristics (i.e., that does not single out certain disfavored topics) (Black)

§ Thus, a statute barring cross-burning with intent to intimidate okay (b/c cross-burning a particularly virulent form of intimidation); a statute barring cross-burning with intent to intimidate Democratic voters probably not okay (because would be viewpoint discrimination)

§ UPSHOT: If R.A.V. still good law after Black, then rule might be that content-based hate speech statute is constitutional only if it prohibits speech done with intent to intimidate without reference to the purpose or probability of intimidation

·        Feldman: Such a law would be essentially an anti-intimidation law rather than a hate speech law

o   Feldman: The quantitative judgment veers toward consequentialism

§ (2) Where “secondary effects” of the speech justify the regulation without reference to the content of the speech (such as where a protected subclass happens to be associated with particular secondary effects of the speech)

·        E.g., laws permitting all obscene performances except those involving minors

·        E.g., Title VII, which prohibits speech that creates a hostile workplace; such speech is bannable not because of its content, but rather because of its effect on the world

o   Why city ordinance not like Title VII: The city ordinance here focuses on speech itself (in the form of symbols) whereas Title VII deals primarily with conduct (creating a hostile work environment) that only incidentally sweeps up speech within its contours

·        NOTE: This exception turns on the basis of why the state is prohibiting certain words: the prohibition must be because of what the words do rather than because of what they say

o   PRINCIPLE: Liberal neutrality: The state should remain neutral (at least in the 1st Amendment context) on what constitutes the “good life” (i.e., about what ideas are or are not “good”) and so should not employ tools of regulation to advance certain political ideas

§ That is, the 1st Amendment prohibits government deviations from neutrality

§ BUT: Scalia does not think liberal neutrality required in non–1st Amendment contexts

o   Content discrimination/viewpoint discrimination distinction:

§ (1) Content discrimination: Discrimination based on subject matter

§ (2) Viewpoint discrimination: Discrimination based on (ideological) perspective (what is being said about that subject

·        Scalia says the ordinance in R.A.V. is viewpoint discrimination because advantages those who want to use fighting words on grounds other than race, religion or gender over those who do want to use fighting words on those grounds

·        Stevens (dissent): The city ordinance is not viewpoint discrimination because prohibits antireligious sentiment from any perspective (i.e., prohibits all religious insults)

o   Scalia’s reply: The discrimination is not between religions but between religion and nonreligion (ordinance would allow nonreligious but not religious insults)

o   Narrow tailoring in the content-discrimination context:

§ IMPORTANT: 1st Amendment rights are not absolute; may be restricted if narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest

§ Application to R.A.V.: Combating racism is a compelling interest, but according to Scalia ordinance not narrowly tailored because LRA (an ordinance prohibiting speech that arouses anger but that does not limit itself only to certain topics) exists

·        White: Scalia’s analysis turns strict scrutiny on its head: Scalia saying ordinance not narrowly tailored because not wide enough (i.e., does not sweep enough speech within its prohibition)

·        Scalia’s reply: In this case, wider is narrower because a more expansive ordinance would not so heavily discriminate on the basis of content

o   R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (U.S. 1992, p.827): Court invalidates city ordinance prohibiting placing on public or private property symbols (such as a burning cross or Nazi swastikas) that arouse anger, alarm, or resentment in others on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, or gender.

§ REASON: Ordinance grounded in achieving racial justice, thus violating liberal neutrality

o   Virginia v. Black (U.S. 2003, p.837): Virginia statute says (i) unlawful to burn cross with intent to intimidate and (ii) cross-burning is prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate.  Statute upheld, except for prima facie provision

§ Distinguishing R.A.V.: This falls under the first exception in R.A.V.: Cross-burning is a particularly virulent form of intimidation, so statute may bar it as being particularly “fighting” (or “threatening”)

·        Unlike ordinance in R.A.V., statute in Black does not single out speech directed at one of a list of specific disfavored topics, but rather bans speech that is particularly intimidating, for being particularly intimidating

§ Prima facie provision struck down: Provision creates rebuttable presumption that any cross-burning is done with purpose to intimidate, meaning that if a ∆ decides not to present a defense he will be convicted; that’s not okay

·        Scalia: It would be the extreme case where a person would burn a cross without intent to intimidate and then refuse to present a defense, so prima facie provision should be upheld

·        Feldman: To the extent the prima facie provision makes convictions easier to obtain, perhaps suggests the reason behind the statute was to discourage cross-burning

§ Thomas (dissent): Cross-burning is conduct, not speech (symbolic conduct should not be treated as speech), so 1st Amendment not implicated

·        Hate crimes statute (H.R. 1913):

o   Sec. 6 (“Prohibition of certain hate crime acts”):

§ (a) In General- Chapter 13 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

·        Sec. 249 (“Hate crime acts”):

o   (a)(1) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person--

§ (A) shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years, fined in accordance with this title, or both; and

§ (B) shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined in accordance with this title, or both, if--

·        (i) death results from the offense; or

·        (ii) the offense includes kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.


§ (A) IN GENERAL- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, in any circumstance described in subparagraph (B) [federal nexus provision], willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person--

§ (i) shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years, fined in accordance with this title, or both; and

§ (ii) shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined in accordance with this title, or both, if--

·        (I) death results from the offense; or

·        (II) the offense includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.

o   SEC. 8 (“Rule of construction”):

§ Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by, the Constitution.

Libel[edit | edit source]

·        Public figures (NY Times): A public figure cannot recover damages for a (i) defamatory falsehood (ii) relating to his official conduct unless (iii) he proves (by clear and convincing evidence) that the statement was made with “actual malice

o   “Actual malice”: Either (a) knowledge the statement was false or (b) reckless disregard of whether the statement was false or not (reckless disregard of the truth, i.e., serious doubts about the accuracy of the statement)

o   “Public figure”:

§ Curtis Publishing extended the NY Times “actual malice” rule to cover all “public figures,” not just public officials

§ Court suggests one can become a public figure in two ways: (i) (Gertz) by achieving “general fame or notoriety in the community and pervasive involvement (or influence) in the affairs of society”; or (ii) (Wolston) “voluntarily inject[ing onself] into a particular controversy, thus becoming a public figure for a limited range of issues”

·        Chemerinsky (p.1052) suggests an element of voluntariness (i.e., voluntary injection into the limelight) is required for one to be termed a public figure

o   Burden of proof: Placed on π public figure to show both (a) falsity of statement and (b) actual malice by clear and convincing evidence

o   RATIONALE (“chilling effect’): Concern about self-censorship: A rule that required a critic of a public figure to guarantee the truth of all his factual assertions on pain of libel liability would lead to self-censorship

§ Even true statements might be deterred because of (i) doubt that they could be proved true in court or (ii) expense of having to prove them true in court

·        This is especially problematic given that criticism of public officials lies at the “core” of political speech

§ RESPONSE: Could employ negligence standard, define reasonable care as the (P)robability of harm x (L)oss to be expected (BPL).  This is the economically optimal standard; otherwise there will be too much harm to public figures

§ REPLY: BPL not right test to apply because BPL does not take into account externalities (such as the benefit to society of publishing information about public figures)

·        Also, L likely very difficult to measure

o   ALTERNATIVE RATIONALE (functionalist): Media as fourth branch of government: Press is necessary to a well-run democracy, and Court often defers to legislative and executive branch judgments, so should similarly defer to press (trusting that press’s interest in maintaining its reputation will lead it to fact-check)

§ RESPONSE (formalist): The “4th branch” is just a metaphor; the press is not elected

§ REPLY: The 1st Amendment does mention the press, and people vote for the press with their pocketbook

§ Civic republicanism: The press facilitates the public’s oversight of/participation in self-government, so important to provide breathing room to press

o   ALTERNATIVE RATIONALE (marketplace of ideas): Media as solution to information asymmetries: A well-functioning market requires accurate information, and media is in best position to check whether information is true

§ Media helps avoid market failures

o   Private conduct of public officials: Brennan does not reach this question

§ Black (and Douglas) in concurrence see no distinction between public and private conduct of public officials

§ Civic republican view: NY Times rule should extend to private conduct of public figures because we don’t just vote on the basis of public conduct; we vote on basis of private conduct, too, and information is crucial to making informed voting decisions.   Voting is the connection between the civic republican rationale for F/S and the need to speak about the private conduct of public figures

·        “The private is public in voting decisions”

§ NOTE: Post–NY Times the NY Times rule was extended to cover private conduct of public figures

·        Private figures (Gertz): States may not impose liability without fault (i.e., strict liability) for private-figure libel, but are otherwise free to set whatever libel standards they want

o   Damages: Limited to “compensation for actual injury” (i.e., no punitive damages) unless liability based on knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth

o   RATIONALE: Private figures (i) have less access to media to rebut false statements (so more vulnerable) than public figures and (ii) do not choose to become public figures (so more deserving of recovery; should not be required to internalize effects of defamatory speech)

·        New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (U.S. 1964, p.807): NY Times published ad containing factual inaccuracies (claimed truckload of police armed with tear gas ringed Alabama college campus; MLK Jr. arrested seven times (when in fact had been arrested four times))

o   Alabama law said publication is “libel per se” if it (i) injures a person’s reputation or (ii) brings a person into public contempt. Only defense was that the stated facts were “true in all their particulars”  Note that this was a strict liability tort (state of mind irrelevant).

·        Curtis Publishing v. Butts (U.S. 1967, p.813): Football coach at state university accused of game-fixing; extended NY Times rule to all public “figures”

o   REASONING: All the rationales for applying the NY Times rule to public officials apply equally to public figures (public figures play a role in ordering our society)

·        Gertz v. Robert Welch (U.S. 1974, p.815): ∆, a lawyer, sued magazine for saying he helped frame a policeman and was a “Communist-fronter”

Journalistic Privilege[edit | edit source]

·        Rule (Branzburg, p.1218): No constitutional right of press not to be compelled to testify and/or reveal the identity of confidential sources and contents of conversations with those sources

o   Limitation on rule (Powell concurrence): Rule applies only to “good faith” grand jury proceedings: “official harassment of the press undertaken not for purpose of law enforcement but to disrupt a reporter’s relationship with news sources would have no justification.”  

o   Argument in favor of privilege: Confidentiality facilitates news-gathering; needed to get some sources to talk

o   Argument against privilege: The government’s interest in prosecution may from time to time outweigh the press’s interest in newsgathering

§ White: “The public interest in law enforcement and in ensuring effective grand jury proceedings [is sufficient] to override the consequential, but uncertain, burden on news gathering that is said to result from insisting that reporters, like other citizens, respond to relevant questions put to them in the course of a valid grand jury investigation or criminal trial.”

o   Why a constitutional claim (connection to NY Times):

§ (1) Marketplace of ideas: A well-function marketplace requires accurate information, and for the press that requires use of confidential sources

·        RESPONSE: But why then not allow press to keep all information acquired from confidential sources secret?

·        REPLY: Should be possible to disaggregate the information itself from the identity of the person who furnished that information

§ (2) Civic republicanism (Brandeis in Whitney): To be able to make informed decisions about government, people need information, and media’s use of confidential sources is a mechanism for gathering information

§ (3) Press as fourth branch of government (check on government): If press is truly to check executive branch, need privilege to prevent executive branch from initiating prosecutions solely to learn identity of confidential sources (especially since the press frequently may be investigating the executive branch itself)

·        [Feldman: This is the strongest argument for a testimonial privilege]

·        RESPONSE (formalist): Nice metaphor, but Constitution only creates three branches, and those three branches are to check each other

·        REPLY: The Constitution itself mentions the “press”; so the institution is instantiated in the Constitution itself

o   Also, if the whole system becomes corrupt the press becomes the last bastion of hope

·        REJOINDER: The Constitution mentions the press only in passing

o   Feldman: This is the strongest argument against the press-as-fourth-branch view

·        [Alternative response: The press-as-fourth-branch argument envisions the press as a cohesive institution with strong institutional norms, but the press today is far less cohesive than previously, professional norms are breaking, and the line between press and not is breaking down

o   Line-drawing problem: How to draw the line to decide who counts as “press”; today there are many amateur news-gatherers not steeped in journalistic professional norms

o   Reply to alternative response: (i) Even amateurs have norms, and (ii) legislatures and courts draw lines all the times (we can just draw the line where we want it to be)]

§ NOTE: Argument that this should not be a constitutional claim is that the actual question is whether the government’s interest in prosecution (law enforcement and effective grand jury proceedings) should outweigh the press’s interest in newsgathering/burden subpoenas place on newsgathering (balancing test), and that this should be a legislative determination, not a constitutional one

·        Feldman: Level-of-generality arguments cannot really end an argument because such arguments almost always mask underlying substantive normative judgments

Campaign Finance[edit | edit source]

·        General model: Spending money on campaigns is a form of political speech

o   Level of scrutiny applied: Unclear; seems perhaps to be intermediate scrutiny for contributions and strict scrutiny for expenditures

o   (a) Campaign contributions (Buckley): Congress may limit consistent with the 1st Amendment, so long as limitations (i) justified by sufficient government interest in (ii) preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption

§ Application (Buckley): $1000 limit on direct contributions to candidates serves to prevent corruption/appearance of corruption b/c large contributions often given to secure quid pro quos from officeholders

§ Application (McConnell): Soft money contributions to national party committees lead to access peddling and give rise to an appearance of corruption and so bannable under Buckley

§ NOTE: Controlled or coordinated expenditures count as contributions

o   (b) Campaign expenditures:

§ (1) By individuals on their own campaigns (Buckley): Congress may not limit

·        RATIONALE: Interest in equalizing candidate resources not sufficient to justify infringement on 1st Amendment rights; 1st Amendment does not permit restriction of some speech to make other speech more effective

§ (2) Expenditures by independent groups (“Independent expenditures”; esp. by corporations and labor unions) (Buckley):

·        (a) Express advocacy (advocacy for/against a particular candidate) Congress may limit

o   BCRA § 203: Prohibits unions and corporations from electioneering (airing commercials) using general treasury funds (as opposed to a segregated fund) within certain time period of election; upheld in McConnell against facial challenge

·        (b) Issue advocacy (advocacy for/against a particular issue): Congress may not limit

o   RATIONALE: Absence of prearrangement/coordination with particular candidate’s campaign undermines value of expenditure to an individual candidate and also alleviates concern (or appearance) that expenditure made as a quid pro quo

§ Also, expenditures more directly related to speech than contributions, so contribution limits are okay in instances where expenditure limits are  not

o   EXCEPTION (McConnell): Where issue advocacy becomes the “functional equivalent” of express advocacy, Congress may limit (i.e., regulation will survive strict scrutiny)

§ Court discards “magic words” view of express/issue advocacy distinction

§ Application (McConnell): Court upholds provision of McCain-Feingold (BCRA) barring corporations and labor unions from funding “electioneering communications” (ads that refer to candidate by name) within 30 days of an election

§ Test (WRTL): An ad is the “functional equivalent of express advocacy” only if it is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate

·        Test is not whether ad was intended to influence an election

·        Does the distinction make sense?

o   Yes: Express advocacy is like a campaign contribution because benefits a particular candidate, whereas issue advocacy is about expression of political beliefs

o   No: Purpose of express advocacy is to elect someone who will enact one’s desired policies; so express advocacy functionally equivalent to expenditures advocating those policies directly

§ RESPONSE: Maybe one shouldn’t be allowed to spend money on issues, either, because issue advocacy still distorts the marketplace of ideas

·        Feldman: Upshot of this view is that 1st Amendment requires government to facilitate expression of ideas

·        Should campaign money be treated as speech (subject to 1st Amendment protections)?

o   Yes: These days, you need money to speak/get your views out (Scalia, McConnell concurrence/dissent), and people contribute to/spend money on campaigns knowing their money will be translated into speech

§ A restriction on the amount of money a person can spend on political communication during a campaign necessarily reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration and the size of the audience reached.

·        Scalia (McConnell concurrence/dissent): The right to speak would be largely ineffective if it did not include the right to engage in financial transactions that are incidents of the exercise of such right

§ BUT, even if campaign finance is speech can still argue subject to regulation under the democratic participation theory, b/c campaign finance laws enable more people to run for office and so increase democratic participation

§ Can also argue that campaign finance law — even if speech — is also subject to regulation under the marketplace of ideas because campaign contributions/ expenditures distort the marketplace of ideas b/c leads to ideas being judged on basis of advertising rather than on their own strength

o   No: All conduct may be construed as speech, but we don’t give all conduct 1st Amendment protections

§ Feldman: When we ask whether something is speech or conduct, what we’re really doing is asking whether regulating that “thing” is consistent with the values and purposes of the 1st Amendment

·        That is, when we ask whether something is speech or conduct we’re asking a question about the substance of the 1st Amendment

·        Applying Feldman’s point to campaign finance: Campaign finance law concerns who gets to run for public office, which is not a 1st Amendment issue (who gets to run for office has nothing to do with the “marketplace of ideas”)

·        Should campaign expenditures by regulable in light of the 1st Amendment?

o   Yes:

§ Marketplace of ideas/equality: Campaign expenditures distort the marketplace of ideas; wealth should not be a determinant of political success

·        Equality is a compelling interest, and allowing unlimited expenditures allows the wealthy to drown out the voices of those with less money, giving the wealthy much more influence on election campaigns and, ultimately, with elected officials (Chemerinsky, p.1075)

§ Democratic participation/legitimacy: Campaign expenditures correlate closely with election outcomes, turning our system into more of a plutocracy than a democracy

·        Feldman: Under this view, expenditures are actually worse than contributions, given that Obama’s campaign showed that (a) contributions can reflect intensity of feeling and (b) in the age of the internet, small-sized contributions can affect elections

·        RESPONSE: We do still play elections out; people do still exercise free choice in deciding how to vote

o   Feldman: This is the “romantic” conception of the 1st Amendment: People have ability to decide their own fate, and weigh various forms of information in doing so

o   Feldman: The romantic conception of the 1st Amendment is quite powerful, b/c our system of democracy depends on the notion that the act of standing in a voting booth is a real, meaningful act of free will (and even self-expression)

§ Feldman: Note how our conception of democracy as free will stands in tension with empirical studies showing that adding money does alter election results

§ Efficency: If candidates spend all their time fundraising, huge waste of time

o   No:

§ Self-expression: People donate money as an expression of their views

·        Feldman: The self-expression argument is the strongest argument against the regulation of campaign expenditures

§ Cynical view/Public Choice Analysis (Scalia in McConnell): By supposedly “removing” money from the system, Congress merely acting to ensure its own incumbency

·        Campaign finance laws merely an effort to redesign the rules of the game, and because members of Congress — like everyone else — are self-interested, when they redesign the system they inevitably do it in a way that benefits themselves

·        Fully cynical view: Note that the breakdown on the Court in recent campaign finance rulings has been 5–4 along partisan lines

·        Judicial elections:

o   Rule (White): States may not prohibit judicial candidates from announcing views on contested legal and political issues

§ NOTE: State law in White was content-based speech restriction, so strict scrutiny applied

§ RATIONALE: Although ensuring judicial impartiality towards parties (and appearance of such) is a compelling state interest,  prohibition on judges’ ability to announce legal views on issues not narrowly tailored to serve that interest

·        Kennedy (White concurrence): There is no government interest compelling enough to justify content-based restrictions on political speech

·        Ginsburg (White dissent): Judges are not political actors, so the animating principle behind the protection of political speech — that representative government depends on the public’s ability to choose agents who will act at its behest — does not apply to judicial elections

·        Feldman: The outcome in White may be explained by the gravitational pull of the campaign finance cases — the liberals in White could not say the proscribed speech was core political speech, because the next time a campaign finance case came around they would be in the funny position of having said White was core political speech but campaign finance is not

o   Feldman: The liberals’ acceptance in Buckley of the position that elections are speech forces them into a defensive position on campaign finance cases

§ “Judicial impartiality”: Judges should not be biased toward particular parties, but need not be (and indeed shouldn’t be) a blank slate as far as legal views and judicial philosophy are concerned

·        Buckley v. Valeo (U.S. 1976, p.1167):

·        McConnell v. FEC (U.S. 2003, p.1191):

·        FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (U.S. 2007, p.1200): WRTL, a nonprofit corporation, runs ads shortly before 2004 election — in which Senator Russ Feingold was up for reelection — urging voters to call Feingold to protest Senate’s filibuster of judicial nominees; Court holds that ad was not functional equivalent of express advocacy

o   NOTE: Court says that because BCRA § 203 burdens political speech, it is subject to strict scrutiny and, under McConnell, passes strict scrutiny only to the extent it regulates express advocacy or its functional equivalent

·        Republican Party of Minnesota v. White (U.S. 2002, p.941):Minnesota law said candidates for judicial office could not announce views on contested legal issues

Obscenity[edit | edit source]

·        Rule (Roth): Obscenity not covered by 1st Amendment

o    “Obscenity” (Miller): Three-part test

§ (1) Whether the (a) average person, (b) applying community standards, would find that the work, (c) taken as a whole, (d) appeals to prurient interest (Roth)

§ (2) Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way (e.g., hard-core porn), sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and

§ (3) Whether the work, taken as whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

o   “Prurient”: (a) Itching, longing; or (b) morbid, shameful [“material having a tendency to incite lustful thougts”]

§ Feldman: One could argue that definition (b) trenches less on autonomy because seems less autonomy-violating to prohibit something because it produce shameful thoughts than because it produces longing, but it may well be that some people want to feel or express some shame

·        ALSO, arguably no thought involved under the “itching” metaphor (no “conceptual” content), and if no thought involved marketplace of ideas is irrelevant

§ Feldman: Historically, the argument for obscenity laws was to keep sexual desire from being out in the open (“longing”), but today the argument focuses more on preserving a sense of shame around certain acts (“morbid, shameful”)

o   COMMUNITY STANDARDS: Many think Court developed “community standards” test to avoid Redrup problem of having to view allegedly obscene films

§ Relying on local juries avoids need for single national standard; also possibly promotes harmony because people can choose which communities to live in

·        Feldman: Community standards test also helps sidestep the countermajoritarian difficulty, b/c leaves it to community members to decide standards, not judges

§ Feldman: Under “shame” view, perhaps community standards test makes sense because norms for what constitutes shameful behavior vary across communities

·        BUT, under autonomy/self-identity rationale community standards test is a poor measure, because individual autonomy norms should not vary across communities

§ PROBLEM (“conservative veto”): To permit standards to vary by community is to give a veto to the most conservative communities, because producers of obscene material are subject to liability wherever their material goes, which in a national marketplace may by anywhere

·        Stevens in Reno: The “community standards” test has gone from being a shield for publishers to a sword for puritans

o   Places of public accommodation/”secondary effects” (Paris Adult Theater): A state may regulate exhibition of obscene materials in places of public accommodation, even where exhibition is made only to consenting (willing) adults

§ RATIONALE: The state has a legitimate interest in maintaining order and morality (pleasant community environment, quality of life, tone of commerce, public safety, etc.) (Roth); thus, state has legitimate interest in regulating (i) commerce in and (ii) exhibition of obscene material — even in places of public accommodation from which children are excluded — b/c of obscenity’s secondary effects on society

·        I.e., obscenity does not obtain constitutional immunity from state regulation simply because it is exhibited to consenting adults only [CB: in private?]

·        Contrary view (Brennan, Paris dissent): Vagueness of standards in obscenity law are such (lack of fair notice, chilling of legitimate speech) that in the absence of distribution to juveniles or exposure to unconsenting adults, 1st Amendment should bar government from suppressing material on basis of “obscene” content

o   Provision to minors

§ Efforts to bar access by minors to nonobscene (but “indecent”) materials (Reno): State may regulate access by minors to nonobscene materials, but must do so in a manner that does not infringe on adults’ access to nonoobscene materials (interest in freedom of expression)

·        Problem in Reno: CDA barred knowing transmission or display of indecent material to minors, but lack of effective “gateway” technology for posters or senders to discern between adults and minors meant that CDA effectively amounted to a total ban on indecent (but nonobscene) material that adults have a right to (b/c poster or senders had to know that at least one minor likely would view the material)

o   I.e., CDA not narrowly tailored enough (and government has not shown why an LRA would be less effective)

§ “Community standards” test and the Internet (Ashcroft I): Permissible to apply “community standards” test in Internet context, even though arguably forces all speakers on Internet to abide by community standards of the “most puritan” community, where there is also a (i) “serious value” and (ii) “prurient interest” prong

·        O’Connor/Breyer (Ashcroft I concurrences): National standard, not community standard, should be used to regulate internet obscenity

·        Ashcroft II: COPA struck down b/c government fails to prove that π’s proposed LRAs — blocking and filtering software — is less effective at blocking minors’ access to harmful materials

o   NOTE: Court applies strict scrutiny to COPA b/c COPA is a content-based speech restriction

o   Breyer (dissent): The LRAs the Court points to are essentially the status quo; Court basically telling Congress there’s nothing it can do to stem availability to minors of harmful material on internet (upshot is basically to disallow regulation of the internet, except for child pornography)

·        CB: To extent that COPA uses Miller test, why does presence of LRAs even matter? Isn’t the material at issue here unprotected by the 1st Amendment b/c obscene? à Chemerinsky says law was content-based (“applied only to sexual content over the internet”) and so was subject to strict scrutiny)

o   Feldman: Remember, though, that under RAV “not covered” does not mean totally without 1st Amendment protection; viewpoint discrimination not allowed even for unprotected speech, because starts to look like suppression of ideas

·        Should obscenity be protected by the 1st Amendment?

o   No, should not be protected:

§ (1) Obscenity has no social value (like “fighting words”): The 1st Amendment exists to protect ideas that have at least some redeeming social value

·        NOTE: This rationale does not fit the “marketplace of ideas” rationale, because under the marketplace of ideas rationale Holmes wanted all ideas out in the marketplace because no way to know for sure the value of an idea

o   RESPONSE: Perhaps obscenity and fighting were are not ideas at all, because they are not propositions (i.e., they do not assert anything)

§ REPLY: The fighting words in Chaplinsky were a proposition — “You’re a fascist.”

§ (2) Obscenity has harmful effects (consequentialist/“tone” argument): Certain speech has consequences so harmful that it can and should be prohibited

·        E.g., fighting words leads to violence, pornography leads to incivility and subordination of women

·        Corollary: A community should be able to determine its “moral” environment

§ (3) Obscenity has no political value: The 1st Amendment exists to protect political speech (“core” of 1st Amendment), and obscenity has very little political value

o   Yes, should be protected:

§ (1) Marketplace of ideas (value skepticism): Government should protect all ideas, since the only way to find truth is to get all ideas out in the marketplace

§ (2) Obscenity does have political value: Following the “sexual revolution,” sex itself became a political statement (again social norms), so sex does in fact have political/social value

§ (3) Mills: There is nothing to be feared from falsehood because “truth will prevail,” so all ideas should be protected

§ (4) Self-identity/individual autonomy: 1st Amendment exists to protect individual autonomy and self-expression, and obscenity is close to the heart of self-expression and autonomy

·        CAVEAT(HARM PRINCIPLE): The “autonomy” rationale doesn’t apply well to speech that injures other people (e.g., “fighting words”), because under the “harm principle” the autonomy rationale ends at the point where harm to another occurs (because no one’s autonomy is any more important than anyone else’s)

o   RESPONSE: The shaping of identities takes place in communities, and all identities have some negative effects on others, so perhaps we should permit full expression of ideas (for purposes of building self-identity)

o   BUT, this also cuts the other way: Perhaps we should restrict harmful speech because harmful speech impairs other people’s identity-formation

·        Regardless of whether obscenity should be protected, should it be regulated?

o   No, should not be regulate:

§ (1) Shame may be a good thing: Bickel said that we should want to preserve some things as shameful, because to grant the right to do whatever one wants is to affect the world around us and impinge on other people’s privacies

§ (2) Individual autonomy/identity formation: Self-identity is shaped through interaction with state regulation, so when the state regulates it actually shapes self-identity (how the states structures society affects how citizens structure the self)

·        Thus, if the state chooses not to regulate sexual desire and shame, by that choice the state impacts how people shape their own self-identity

o   Yes, should regulate:

§ (1) Feminist perspective: Obscenity harms women by objectifying them

·        Child pornography:

§ Rule (Ferber): Like obscenity, not subject to 1st Amendment protections, even when not obscene

·        Pornography as the subordination of women (Hudnut):

o   EASTERBROOK (marketplace of ideas): Ideas about the subordination of women protected by 1st Amendment, just like ideas about Nazism or other terrible things; so, to extent pornography is an expression of the pervasive subordination of women, no meaningful distinction on 1st Amendment grounds between pornography and anti-Semitic speech (both qualify as “speech”)

§ Pornography, even though it has negative social consequences, is speech because it requires mental intermediation to change behavior (i.e., has no direct effects on world), just like other forms of speech do

·        MS. COWER: Even if pornography requires “mental intermediation” to affect behavior, the way it affects behavior is still different than, say, the way ideas about Nazism affect behavior, because pornography’s ability to affect behavior does not depend on the persuasiveness of arguments (or even the conveyance of ideas at all); rather, pornography alters behavior by modifying background norms; one need not analyze or think about pornography to be affected by it

o   I.e., pornography does not portray itself as an idea or proposition in the same manner anti-Semitic speech does

o   MacKinnon would agree: Pornography not an idea because affects behavior through conditioning rather than through mental intermediation of ideas

·        EASTERBROOK’S RESPONSE: Other behavior protected by 1st Amendment, such as religious ceremonies, has a conditioning effect on behavior

o   REPLY: BUT, religion specially protected by 1st Amendment

o   REPLY: BUT, presumably Congress can regulate other conditioning behavior, such as addictive substances, without running afoul of 1st Amendment, even though an act like smoking can have expressive meaning,

o   REPLY: BUT, religion does not cause a biological response in the same way viewing pornography does

§ REJOINDER: Stimulation is mental intermediation

§ Feldman: Note that Easterbrook does not apply strict scrutiny here; this is because under Brandenburg there must be incitement to imminent lawless action [CB: Is this right?]

§ Feldman: Note that had Indianapolis ordinance been couched in terms of “obscenity,” Easterbrook’s mental intermediation point would have been irrelevant because several categories not protected by the 1st Amendment — e.g., fighting words, libel — also require mental intermediation

o   MACKINNON: Pornography not speech and not protected by 1st Amendment because pornography is not just about ideas; rather, pornography itself is the injury

§ RATIONALE: Pornography harms women by changing how men view and treat women, leads men to subordinate and degrade women by systematically associating sexual desire with subordination or women

·        Harm principle: Even if pornography is about self-identity and individual autonomy, autonomy ends where harm to another begins

o   Feldman: This debate shows how in the U.S., given the doctrinal strictures on U.S. constitutional law if one wants to ban certain expressive activity one is forced into the position of arguing that that activity is not speech

§ This is why MacKinnon argues that pornography — even though comprised of words and images — is not speech: she has to

o   Why no EP claim in Hudnut: The Constitution restricts only state action, and the Indianapolis ordinance purported to regulate private action

§ MS. BERKOWITZ: This demonstrate a fundamental flaw in absolutist F/S doctrine: Absolutist F/S doctrine makes a value choice to subordinate a whole range of other constitutional values — e.g., equality — to the command of F/S, thus protecting even despicable, discriminatory speech

·        Roth v. U.S. (U.S. 1957, p.843): Roth, a NY publisher, was convicted of mailing obscene advertising and an obscene book in violation of a federal statute barring the mailing of “obscenity.”

·        Miller v. California (U.S. 1973, p.848): This case involves the application of a State’s criminal obscenity statute to a situation in which sexually explicit materials have been thrust by aggressive sales action upon unwilling participants.

·        Paris Adult Theater I v. Slaton (U.S. 1973, p.850): This case arose from a GA civil proceeding to enjoin the showing of two allegedly obscene films at two adult theaters. Two investigators found that the signs outside the theaters warning you must be 21 to enter did not warn about the full nature of what was shown in the films.

·        American Booksellers Ass’n v. Hudnut (7th Cir. 1986, p.868): Indianapolis ordinance defined pornography as the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women; no requirement that such subordination be obscene to qualify as pornography, and irrelevant whether work has literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

o   Easterbrook: The ordinance is unconstitutional b/c viewpoint discriminatory (actually, says content discriminatory in the opinion); speech treating women in approved way (espousing the “right” view) is permissible while speech treating women in disapproved way (espousing the “wrong” view) is unlawful

o   NOTE: Yelena’s outline has a really good summary of the case

·        Reno v. ACLU (U.S. 1997, p.895): Two provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (“CDA”) challenged in this case: (1) The indecent transmission provision — prohibits the knowing transmission of obscene or indecent messages to any recipient under 18 years of age; (2) patently offensive display provision — prohibits the knowing sending or displaying of patently offensive messages in a manner that is available to a person under 18 years of age.

o   Important: CDA covers both obscene and indecent (but nonobscene) material.   No requirement under CDA that material, to be covered, involve sexual conduct, lack serious societal value, or be specifically defnied by applicable law (Miller test)

·        Ashcroft v. ACLU (I & II) (U.S. 2002 & 2004, p.900 & 902): Following Reno, Congress passed Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which prohibited persons from making available to minors via the Internet material that is either (i) obscene or (ii) passes the three-pronged Miller test.  COPA permits affirmative defenses of requiring (i) credit card or adult access code, (ii) digital age verification certificate, or (iii) other reasonable screening technology.  In Ashcroft I Court upholds COPA (see above) but in Ashcroft II strikes down, b/c concludes filtering and blocking software constitutes an LRA

Public Schools[edit | edit source]

·        1st Amendment applies in public schools (Tinker)

·        (1) Disruptive speech (Tinker): A public school cannot interfere with student speech (where school’s intention is to suppress the message intended to be conveyed) unless the speech (a) materially disrupts classwork or (b) involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others

o   Speech promoting illegal conduct/drug use (Morse): Public school may restrict speech that may reasonably be viewed as promoting illegal conduct/drug use

§ Feldman: This is a drug-advocacy exception to Tinker; however, not clear if this rule derives from Tinker, Kuhlmeier, or somewhere else

·        (2) School-sponsored speech (Kuhlmeier): A school may exercise editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored (curricular) expressive activities so long as the school’s actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns

o   Chemerinsky (p.1153): Court treats the school newspaper as a nonpublic forum and applies rational basis review

o   Distinction from Tinker (attribution argument): Here, students expressing views through school-sponsored activity — the school newspaper — whose viewpoint is attributable to the school

§ PROBLEM: This distinction is entirely circular: Once people know that school has control of activity, will attribute content to the school; once people know school does not have control, won’t attribute content to school

·        BUT, maybe something to attribution argument if one can characterize the school newspaper as government speech

o   Government speech doctrine: Government may say what it wants when it speaks — both content and substantive discrimination okay

o   Feldman: Standard view is to see Kuhlmeier as limitation on Tinker, but maybe in fact proper view is to see Kuhlmeier as hinting at the government speech doctrine

·        RESPONSE: Student newspaper is not an organ of government speech but rather a tool for civic training (of future journalist); thus, to view the school newspaper as government speech is actually to subvert the newspaper’s purpose

o   Distinctiveness of schools:

§ Feldman: In both Barnette and Tinker, Court treats public schools as not particularly distinctive (school as stand-in for state and students as stand-ins for citizens), but in Kuhlmeier Court does treat school as distinctive

§ Argument that schools are distinctive: Places of authority where children learn values and are taught about the good life

§ Connection to Frankfurter in Barnette dissent: US Supreme Court should avoid inserting itself into local school decisions

o   Vulgar speech (Fraser): School may ban offensive or vulgar speech at school-sponsored activities (e.g., speech making strong sexual innuendos)

·        Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (U.S. 1969, p.1036): Public school banned wearing of black armbands by students to protest the Vietnam War

o   Why not decided under Barnette:

§ Could argue because Barnette involved compelled speech, but surely the freedom not to speak includes the right to speak

§ Maybe b/c Barnette decided under c/p danger test but Tinker occurred after Brandenburg

·        Also, maybe Court worried that c/p danger test too speech-protective in school context

§ Maybe Barnette more about the rights of parents, and here we don’t know for sure what the parents thought

§ Maybe because Tinker is about classroom disruption, and no one in Barnette was going to be disrupted by JWs’ refusal to pledge allegiance

·        NOTE: Black’s Tinker position is hard to reconcile with his earlier free speech absolutism; maybe Black upset about he politicization of university campuses and changes in school environment between 1944 and 1969

o   Dissent (Harlan): No viewpoint discrimination in Tinker b/c school taking the subject of Vietnam off the table altogether (i.e., not allowing speech for or against the war)

o   Feldman: 1st Amendment cases involving localities or school boards are always event-driven

·        Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (U.S. 1988, p.1042): School principal edits out stories in school newspaper about teen pregnancy and child abuse

·        Morse v. Frederick (U.S. 2007, p.1045): “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” case

o   Feldman: The sign here was a classic example of protest speech; student was protesting school speech code (also social convention underlying that code) prohibiting assembly or public expression that advocated the use of substances that are illegal for minors; this was protest speech, not advocacy (Roberts) or simple nonsense (Stevens)

§ Feldman thinks the sign here was a clear parody of both the sign-at-sporting-event phenomenon and the religion-sign (esp. “John 3:16”) phenomenon incorporating text/hip-hop spelling

Government Speech[edit | edit source]

·        General rule (Summum): The F/S Clause has no application when government is speaking

o   E/C, however, might still apply

·        (1) Publicly funded speech:

o   (a) Government subsidies (LWV): Government cannot prohibit publicly funded broadcast stations from editorializing, where stations not able to segregate funding between editorializing and noneditorializing expenditures

§ NOTES: Court finds restriction to be a “penalty” (rather than a “non-subsidy”) on public broadcasters’ speech; also notes that intermediate scrutiny (“substantial interest”) applies to these sorts of restrictions

§ Rehnquist (dissent): Actually, government should be able to put limits on publicly funded broadcasters; government can say to broadcasters that if they accept the government’s money they must abide by the government’s conditions (“take the bitter with the sweet”)

·        Rehnquist: Restriction actually a non-subsidy, and given impossibility of segregation of funds only effective way to prevent public funds from subsidizing station managers’ views is to ban subsidized stations from all on-air editorializing

o   (b) Government as employer:

§ (i) Other funding sources available (Rust): Government can restrict what publicly funded project participants may do and say, so long as project participants remain free to engage in the restricted conduct outside the scope of the publicly funded program (including by soliciting money from other sources to fund the restricted conduct)

·        Unconstitutional conditions: A funding restriction becomes an unconstitutional condition only where it requires a recipient to give up a constitutional right to receive some government benefit; here, the restriction is on the program, not the recipient

·        Dissent: This permits viewpoint-based suppression of speech, given that doctors in Title X project can counsel against abortion but cannot counsel for abortion

o   RESPONSE: Government here acting as patron or employer, so can proscribe certain views; restriction applies only to speech made within confines of publicly funded projects to which restriction applies (Title X)

§ I.e., this is government speech, or rather, government use of private speakers to transmit information pertaining to a government program (thus distinguished from Rosenberger, where government expended funds to encourage a diversity of views from private speakers)

§ (ii) Government-funded legal services (Velazquez): Government cannot restrict what publicly funded lawyers may do and say in course of representing their clients

·        Distinction from Rust: Hard to characterize LSC-funded lawyers’ speech as government speech, b/c lawyer fighting government

o   Kennedy: “Viewpoint-based funding decisions can be sustained in instances in which (a) the government is the speaker or in which (b), like Rust, the government is using private speakers to transmit information pertaining to its own program.”

o   Also, sanctity of lawyer-client relationship bound up (but what about sanctity of doctor-patient relationship?)

o   Also, seems strange to say Congress can create system where the laws it passes cannot be challenged

o   (c) Government as patron (Finley): Government can judge grant applications for artistic merit, given that judging quality is a necessary component of patronage

§ Enumerated judging criteria (Finley): Where enumerated judging criteria are merely hortatory (such as with “decency” and “respect for American values” criteria in Finley), no 1st Amendment violation

·        BUT, if enumerated criteria were categorically required, might be a problem

·        ALSO, exhortation to take “general standards of decency” into consideration unlikely to lead to greater selectivity than already required “determination of artistic excellence” itself

o   BUT, if NEA started to give grants in way designed to suppress (drive from the marketplace) disfavored viewpoints, might be a problem

o   RESPONSE (Scalia concurrence): The deprivation of a subsidy is not equivalent to the suppression of ideas — artists free as ever to produce the works they wish

·        NOTE: Chemerinsky says the Finley Court concluded that it was viewpoint-neutral for the law to authorize the NEA to consider “decency and respect for values” when awarding grants

§ Viewpoint  [CB: content?]discrimination (in patronage) permitted (Finley): B/c NEA has limited resources and nature and purpose of patronage is to shape art in a certain way, government may place restrictions on types of projects it will fund [CB: This conflicts with my notes on Hurley, which say the government CANNOT viewpoint discriminate in its own speech.  Yelena’s notes say this is Scalia’s view — i.e., government can viewpoint-discriminate in patronage decisions.  Chemerinsky also says government cannot viewpoint discriminate in its own speech.]

·        Exercise of professional judgment (in selection process): NEA exercises professional judgment in deciding which art to fund, and decency may or may not be a criteria in judging excellence

o   Note that this logic holds even if government cannot condition provision of services on speech limitations, because the issue here is exercise of professional judgment, not limitations on speech

·        ALTERNATIVE VIEW (Souter): Government patronage (e.g., NEA funding) creates a public forum by funding a wide variety of expressions and views, so viewpoint discrimination should not be permitted

·        NOTE: RAV does not apply because this is government speech, and government may viewpoint discriminate in its own speech

o   Two frames:

§ (i) Government as patron/employer (Rust): When government funds speech, government acts as a patron or employer, so can place restrictions on the speech it funds

·        I.e., government-funded speech is government speech, so government can say whatever it wants

·        Velazquez dissent (Scalia): If government giving money, doesn’t have to fund what it doesn’t want to

§ (ii) The employees are citizens, and the government is restricting their speech (Rust dissent): Government employees are still citizens with constitutional rights

o   FCC v. League of Women Voters (U.S. 1984, p.1068): Federal statute prohibited any noncommercial educational broadcasting station that received a Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) grant from engaging in editorializing

§ Court finds restriction not narrowly tailored to the goals of either (i) preventing stations from becoming propaganda arms for the governments or (ii) preventing stations from becoming targets for capture by private interest groups, b/c even a station that receives only a tiny amount of money can’t editorialize at all

o   Rust v. Sullivan (U.S. 1991, p.1069): HHS regulation forbade projects receiving federal family planning funds under Title X from referring women for abortion or from encouraging or promoting abortions; if asked about abortion, Title X projects had to say that the project did not consider abortion an “appropriate method of family planning”; however, Title X grantees still able to counsel abortions, so long as kept such activities distinct from Title X activities

o   Legal Services Corporation v. Velazquez (U.S. 2001, p.1077): Statute prohibited entities receiving Legal Services Corporation (LSC) funding from challenging the constitutionality of federal welfare laws

o   National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley (U.S. 1998, p.1073): Statute required NEA to ensure that artistic excellence and merit are the criteria by which grant applications are judged, “taking into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public”

·        (2) Government employees:

o   Test (Pickering): Court must balance (i) the interests of the employee, as a citizen, speaking on matters of public concern against (ii) the interests of the state, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of public services it performs through its employees (by regulating the speech in question)

§ Chemerinsky (p.1110: No 1st Amendment protection when government employee speaks unless expression is about a matter of public concern, and even then the employee can be disciplined (or fired) if the government can show (on balance) that the efficient operation of the office justified the action

o   (a) Government employee speaking as private citizen (Pickering): Where speech concerns a matter of public importance (e.g., operation of a school district), the employee’s speech receives 1st Amendment protection

§ 1st Amendment protection even higher where employee speaks as private citizen through local newspaper (Pickering)

o   (b) Government employee speaking as disgruntled employee (Connick): Where speech concerns office policy or administration, no 1st Amendment protection

§ BUT, the running of a DA’s office is a matter of public importance; perhaps, however, not a matter of public concern because concerned internal office policies

§ Government as private employer (Connick, Garcetti): It’s important for government offices to operate in some sense like a private office so that services can be delivered efficiently and well

·        Opposing view says when government employees speak they should be viewed as acting in their capacities as citizens

o    (c) Government employee speaking pursuant to official duties (Garcetti): No 1st Amendment protection

§ Application of Connick: Where a government employees speaks in his office pursuant to official duties, the employee is speaking as an employee rather than as a private citizen and so may be sanctioned as an employee for what he says

§ DISSENT (Garcetti): This rule creates perverse incentives, b/c says if employee speaks within system can be sanctioned but if speaks outside system — such as by writing a public letter — cannot be sanctioned

o   Pickering v. Board of Education (U.S. 1968, p.1048): Public school teacher wrote letter to local newspaper criticizing school board’s spending policies, was dismissed

o   Connick v. Myers (U.S. 1983, p.1049): Disgruntled Assistant District Attorney circulated questionnaire intended to suggest her displeasure with the way the DA’s office was being run

o   Garcetti v. Ceballos (U.S. 2005, p.1056): Deputy District Attorney wrote memo to supervisor recommending dismissal of case and disclosure of misconduct b/c police lied on affidavit for search warrant; Deputy DA was sanctioned for his memo

·        (3) Fairness doctrine (“right to reply” laws): Constitutional, despite fact that arguably compels speech

o   “Fairness doctrine”: Required all broadcasters with an FCC license who provided speech to one side of a political issue to also provide time to other sides of that same issue (and also to present discussion of public issues)

o   Justification: Broadcast media broadcast over a finite number of frequencies, so there is a scarcity problem with broadcast media not present with print media

§ Marketplace of ideas: To grant a broadcast license is to confer monopoly power; given that monopolization is an example of market failure regulation is needed to correct the effects of monopolization (remedy the market failure)

§ RESPONSE: Even if there is a scarcity problem, fairness doctrine is problematic b/c it trenches on press autonomy (in deciding what to publish)

o   Arguable government duty to facilitate F/S:

§ Under the 1st Amendment, it is the viewers’/consumers’ interests that matter, not the rights of broadcasters and journalists

·        I.e., goal is to protect consumers, not producers

§ IMPLICATION: Government perhaps under an affirmative duty — consistent with deeper values of the 1st Amendment — to design institutions to prevent monopolization in the realm of ideas, that is, to make F/S meaningful by enabling people to have their views/ideas heard (thereby producing an informed public capable of managing its own affairs)

o   NETWORK NEUTRALITY (the return of scarcity): Concern with monopolization of broadcast media thought to be dead with advent of cable TV and the internet, but coming back in debate over “network neutrality,” which would prohibit network providers from discriminating based on content — that is, giving broader bandwidth to some sites than to others based on content

§ Argument for network neutrality: Providers like broadcasters in that bandwidth is limited (although occurs over broader spectrum than traditional broadcast media), so government should require neutral access to avoid private monopolization

§ Argument against network neutrality: Bandwidth may be limited in theory, but haven’t yet reached point where providers not able to provide access to all desired sites

o   Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC (U.S. 1969, p.1234): “Fairness doctrine” upheld against 1st Amendment challenge

·        (4) Monuments on public property (Summum): Permanent displays constitute government speech, so government allowed to content-discriminate or even viewpoint-discriminate

o   RATIONALE: City decides which monuments to accept; scarcity problem (park can accommodate only a limited number of monuments) means city must necessarily choose among monuments

o   Pleasant Grove v. Summum (U.S. 2009, p.S-24): Public park had 15 permanent displays, at least 11 of which had been donated by private parties, including a Ten Commandments monument; Summum religion wanted city to add to park monument reciting principles of Summum; city refused

§ Connection to Rosenberger: Under Rosenberger, if permanent displays in a public park were a limited forum rather than government speech, Pleasant Grove would have to accept Summum’s monument because not to do so would be viewpoint-discrimination (not just content-discrimination, b/c Ten Commandments display permitted)

§ Connection to Locke and Lukumi: Under dicta in Locke, had Pleasant Grove clearly rejected Summum’s monument out of animus toward Summum, might have been a F/E violation under Lukumi, b/c Locke suggests animus opens the door to a Lukumi F/E violation even in a no-action case

§ NOTE: E/C not implicated in case b/c city chose not to offer the E/C as a reason for rejecting the display

Public Forum Doctrine[edit | edit source]

·        (1) Traditional public forum: Archetypal locations for speech — e.g., parks, sidewalks

o   Rule: Strict scrutiny applies to (content-based) restrictions on speech

§ Time, place, and manner restrictions: Permitted so long as (i) justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, (ii) serve a significant government interest, and (iii) leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information

·        (2) Nonpublic forum: Public property that is not by tradition or designation a forum for public communication (e.g., private space in a public building, such as a mayor’s office)

o   Rule: Restrictions on speech permitted so long as reasonable and viewpoint-neutral (i.e., not an effort to suppress expression merely because public officials oppose the speakers’ views)

·        (3) Limited (“designated”) public forum: Nonpublic forum opened to the public (i.e., made “generally available” as a place of expressive activity) for limited purposes

o   Creation (Rosenberger): Provision of funding may under some circumstance create a forum

§ E.g., university student activities fund constitutes a virtual limited public forum (Rosenberger)

o   Rule: Strict scrutiny applies; applicable rules almost indistinguishable from rules applicable to traditional public forum

§ Content discrimination (Rosenberger): Permissible so long as it preserves (i.e., is reasonable in light of) the purposes of the forum

·        “Content discrimination”: Limitations on subject matter of discussion (.e.g., “this forum is limited to discussion of sports”)

·        Under a content-based restriction, whether speech is permitted depends on the content of the speech

§ Viewpoint discrimination (Rosenberger): Impermissible when directed at speech otherwise within the forum’s limitations

·        “Viewpoint discrimination”: Limitations on viewpoints of discussion participants (e.g., “this forum is limited to discussion of sports from a pro–Red Sox perspective”)

o   I.e., regulations based on the ideology of the message

§ So, okay to limit forum to speech on a particular topic, but not okay to limit forum to speech on a particular topic from a particular viewpoint

·        RATIONALE (democratic participation): Government should not prescribe “what shall be orthodox”; rather, people should fight it out

§ Content or viewpoint discrimination?

·        Rosenberger (religion as a viewpoint): A prohibition on speech that manifests or promotes a particular belief in deity or ultimate reality is viewpoint discrimination (not content discrimination), b/c it “selects for disfavored treatment” speech with religious viewpoints (rather than simply excluding religion as a subject matter)

·        Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (U.S. 1995, p.1071): UVA student activities fund (SAF) used mandatory student fees to pay the costs of extracurricular activities, including costs of printing various student-written publications.  Fund guidelines prohibited use of activities fee for any “religious activity,” defined as any activity that “primarily promotes or manifests a particular belief in or about a deity or an ultimate reality.”  UVA refused to use fund to pay printing costs of “Wide Awake,” a student publication dedicated to advancing the “Christian perspective.”

o   Connection to government speech doctrine (Feldman): After Rosenberger, any arguable government speech case can be recharacterized as a limited public forum case

§ SAF could plausibly be argued to be government speech under (i) Kulhmeier (student newspaper is government speech), (ii) Rust (where federal funding comes with speech limitations, speech by funding recipients constitutes government speech), and (iii) Finley (art projects funded by selective government agency constitute government speech)

·        NOTE: Just as in Finley, there were standards student publications had to meet to qualify for SAF funding

§ Why Court construed SAF as limited public forum rather than as government speech (Feldman): To avoid potential E/C problem

Free Association[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

·        Even though not mentioned in Constitution, civic associations — like the press — treated as necessary to functioning of democracy in the modern, large state and thus given constitutional protection

·        Rationales for free association right:

o   (1) Advocacy requires (or is enhanced by) association with other people (NAACP)

o   (2) Civic associations facilitate citizenship (Jaycees)

§ Feldman: The classical republican view (to which the Framers adhered) disfavored civic associations as “factions,” but the modern republican view favors civic associations b/c of their role as intermediary between citizens and representatives

·        Feldman: Framers’ disfavor of civic association explains why the Constitution contains no explicit free association right and does not mention political parties

Compelled Disclosure of Membership[edit | edit source]

·        Rule (NAACP): Absent compelling state interest (strict scrutiny), state may not compel disclosure of membership lists of private organizations, where disclosure will chill association

o   RATIONALE: Compelled disclosure of membership lists in some cases likely to adversely affect an organization’s ability to pursue collective efforts and advocate certain positions (i.e., to advocate its expressive message)

§ Compelling state interest: In NAACP, Alabama’s alleged interest was determining whether NAACP was conducting intrastate business in violation of Alabama statute; court found no relation between this alleged interest and disclosure of NAACP members

§ Modern republican view (adopted in NAACP): “Civic associations” (like the NAACP) facilitate citizenship by intermediating between citizens and government, so should be protected

·        Court recognizes link between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations

o   Counterargument: Perhaps it’s good to know that names of members of associations that are influencing the government

·        Effort to obtain names of Prop. 8 petition signatories:

o   Potential distinctions from NAACP:

§ Petitions are a matter of public record, and in the Prop. 8 context it is private actors seeking access to the list, not the state

·        Feldman: BUT, why should it matter for advocacy purposes whether person is acting as a member of an organization or as a signer of a petition

§ Modern republican view: Less need to protect anonymity of petition signers than civic association members because petitions are direct political action rather than an intermediating association

·        NAACP v. Alabama (U.S. 1958, p.1133): State of Alabama demanded that NAACP reveal names and addresses of all its Alabama members and agents

Compelled Association (Funding)[edit | edit source]

·        Basic doctrine (Abood):

o   (1) There is a right not to associate

o   (2) One cannot be compelled to support ideological views with which one disagrees

o   (3) The involuntary taking of money to fund an association can constitute compelled speech

·        Application:

o   (1) Compelled support of collective bargaining (Abood): Public employees may be required to pay union dues to support union’s collective bargaining efforts

§ RATIONALE: State has strong interest in facilitating collective bargaining (ensures labor peace), and compulsory dues needed to avoid free rider problem

o   (2) Compelled support of political/ideological causes(Abood): Public employees may not be required to pay dues applied to political or ideological causes

§ The test is whether an organization’s expressive activities conflict with one’s “freedom of belief” (Abood)

o   (3) Compelled support of advertising:

§ (i) Pre–government speech doctrine (Glickman): State may compel industry members to provide financial support to generic advertising campaign promoting industry goods, where advertising campaign is incidental to a broader regulatory scheme (United Foods)

·        RATIONALE: Generic advertising does not implicate matters of conscience/belief; not plausible to claim some growers may disagree with the message the ads convey (“Buy California fruit.”), even though some growers might prefer that message be conveyed in different manner

o   Holding in Glickman might be different if marketing orders: (i) restrained freedom of producers to communicate messages of their own, (2) compelled producers to engage in actual or symbolic speech, or (3) compelled producers to endorse or finance political or ideological views

·        RESPONSE: Government lacks a compelling interest here, and some growers may prefer not to have generic advertising (e.g., boutique growers), and so are being forced to support efforts opposed to their economic interests

§ (ii) Government speech doctrine (Johanns): Government may exact funding from industry members to support generic advertising campaign promoting industry, where government maintains sufficient control over campaign for campaign to be considered government speech

·        RATIONALE: Government may compel funding of government speech

o   Feldman: The government speech doctrine is a method of recent development for avoiding 1st Amendment problems

·        Counterargument (Souter): To constitute “government speech,” speech by government should have to self-identify as such

·        Economic life-political life distinction: The compelled funding cases recognize a distinction between (a) economic life and (b) political life (civic associations), and seem to permit government to compel speech (funding) in the former but not the latter sphere

o   Abood: Fees for collective bargaining are like fees for service (economic life), whereas fees for ideological causes more like fees given to a civic organization (political life)

§ Note that this distinction requires bifurcating union functions between (i) economic functions (collective bargaining) and (ii) political functions (civic association activities)

§ RESPONSE from left: This is a false distinction between political and economic life; economics is inextricably intertwined with politics — the economy depends on law

§ RESPONSE from right: Collective bargaining is itself a profoundly politicized process that seeks goals (e.g., closed-shop agreements) some employees may disagree with

o   Glickman: Generic advertising falls within the sphere of economic life, not political life

·        Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (U.S. 1977, p.1149): Under collective bargaining agreement, all public school teachers — even those who are not members of the union — required to pay union dues as a condition of employment

·        Glickman v. Wileman Brothers (U.S. 1997, p.1152): California state order assessed California fruit growers costs of generic advertising for certain California fruits (nectarines, plums, peaches)

·        Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association (U.S. 2005, p.1155): Department of Agriculture program exacted funds from cattle ranchers to support “Beef—It’s What’s for Dinner” advertising program

Compelled Association (Membership/“Expressive” Association)[edit | edit source]

·        Rule (Jaycees): A state regulation may interfere with an organization’s right to choose whom to admit as members only when (a) justified by a compelling state interest, (b) there is no less restrictive alternative, and (c) the regulation is unrelated to the suppression of ideas (i.e., content-neutral)

o   REASONING (Jaycees): Strict scrutiny applies to laws that limit organization’s expressive rights, and an organization’s membership decisions implicate its expressive rights (b/c membership composition affects an organization’s ability to advocate)

o   Compelling state interest: Possible that in Jaycees state had a particularly compelling state interest because Jaycees were a business club, and state has particularly strong interest in eradicating discrimination in business

o   Content-neutrality:  In Jaycees the state public accommodations law was content-neutral because any restriction on associational liberty was merely incidental to Minnesota’s compelling state interest in eradicating sex discrimination

·        Application:

o   (a) Where compelled membership does not impair/undermine expressive message group seeks to promote (Jaycees): Government may infringe on group’s membership decisions

§ Jaycees (Brennan): Minnesota state antidiscrimination law does not require Jaycees to change their creed of promoting the interests of young men, and imposes no restrictions on Jaycees’ ability to exclude individuals with ideologies different from existing members; also, women already involved in the organization

§ Feldman: The Jaycees’ interest in excluding women was probably based on atmospherics; single-sex environment more relaxed environment

o   (b) Where compelled membership would impair/undermine expressive message group seeks to promote — i.e., significantly affect group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints — (Boy Scouts): Government may not infringe on group’s membership decisions

§ NOTE (Boy Scouts): Court will defer to organization’s (1) description of self as expressive group, (2) interpretation of organization’s expressive message/ core values, and (3) view of what would impair organization’s expressive message, meaning that groups need not assert discriminatory message until onset of litigation

·        Contrary view (Stevens, Boy Scouts dissent): No serious burden on group’s expressive message where group cannot even identify its expressive message/stance with clarity

§ Perverse incentive to discriminate intentionally (Feldman): This rule gives organizations a perverse incentive to intentionally discriminate (rather than just casually or accidentally discriminate), because only through intentional discrimination can organization claim compelled membership would undercut organization’s expressive message

·        Argument that perverse incentive okay: There’s a cost for being known as a discriminatory, so groups less likely to claim they are intentional discriminators unless they in fact really are discriminators

·        Argument that perverse incentive not okay: Creates situation where group members forced either to self-identify with the discrimination or leave the group; many people won’t want to leave group, so may decide that, yes, they are discriminators, too

o   (c) Right to assemble (Hurley): Right to assemble for purposes of speech includes right to exclude certain people/messages from the assembly

§ RATIONALE: Government cannot compel a group to propound a particular point of view (“a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his own message”); expressive group does not lose 1st Amendment protection merely by combining multiple voices or failing to isolate an exact message

§ (i) Parades (Hurley): May be expressive, depending on purpose or history

·        Hurley: Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade was expressive; conveyed message of Irish pride, a message closely tied to Irish group identity and who and who is not a member of that group; thus, parade organizers possibly thought inclusion of gays would impair message concerning who is (or should be) a part of the Irish-American community

·        RESPONSE: Parades just big parties, so more like public accommodations (like lunch counter or the Jaycees) than expressive activities, and public accommodations have weaker speech rights

·        RESPONSE: Hard to say presence of gays in St. Patrick’s Day parade would actually undercut parade’s assumed expressive message of Irish solidarity and pride?

o   Feldman: This raises an important question: Must the inclusion of some unwanted group in fact have to undercut the organization’s expressive message in order for the exclusion to receive 1st Amendment protection, or is it enough that the group claims inclusion would under its message?; Boy Scouts suggests the Court will accept the group’s word

o   Why is this not then Jaycees (if inclusion of gays wouldn’t actually undercut parade’s message): Right here more expressive, whereas right in Jaycees more associative

·        RESPONSE: Parades arguably are a kind of government speech because are subsidized by the state, and government may not viewpoint discriminate in its own speech

o   REPLY: Parades are pretty close to the archetype of private free speech; if state subsidies transformed parades into government speech would basically end conception of parades as private speech

·        NOTE (Feldman): Public assembly cases more about speech, whereas group membership cases more about identity

o   (d) Access to group facilities by nongroup members (FAIR): Decision to permit access to group facilities by nongroup members is conduct, not speech (not inherently expressive), so government may infringe on group’s decisions about whom to permit access to

§ Feldman: Under the Solomon Amendment, this rule requires universities to engage in an explicit cost-benefit analysis when deciding to discriminate against gays, thereby implicitly making a statement that the dignity of gay students is worth some amount of money

·        Connection to Dale: Both Dale and FAIR require groups to make explicit value choices

§ NOTE: Government probably still cannot directly infringe on group access decisions by explicitly mandating access to certain groups, because would run into problem under Dale

·        Exclusion of certain groups as expressive conduct (Feldman): Boy Scouts and Hurley suggest that an organization can term itself or its conduct as “expressive” merely by excluding certain people

o   PROBLEM: This reasoning would seem to permit discrimination against blacks at Southern lunch counters

o   Connection to commercial speech: Commercial speech receives looser 1st Amendment protection, so many corporations today trying to politicize their speech so as to receive greater 1st Amendment protection

·        Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees (U.S. 1984, p.1157): Minnesota statute said places of public accommodation could not discriminate on the basis of sex; Jaycees were a business club generally open to the public that did not admit women to full (voting) membership

·        Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (U.S. 2000, p.1159): Boy Scouts refuse to admit scoutmaster because he is gay, claims admitting scoutmaster would undercut moral message Scouts want to communicate to members; Feldman says Boy Scouts’ exclusionary policy towards gays was not expressly stated at time lawsuit began

o   Casebook editor needs to reread the Scout Law to make sure the casebook quotes it correctly

·        Hurley v. Irish-American GLIB of Boston (U.S. 1995, p.1128): Massachusetts law prohibited discrimination on basis of sexual orientation; Boston St. Patrick’s Day organizers refused to permit Boston-area GLIB to march in parade (as group)

·        Rumsfeld v. FAIR (U.S. 2006, p.1131): Federal statute (Solomon Amendment) required colleges and universities who receive federal funds to accept military recruiters on campus

o   NOTE: Congress had to act through funding restrictions rather than through direct mandate because of Dale — under Dale, universities could have claimed they engaged in expressive associative speech against discrimination by selecting who was and was not permitted to recruit on campus

o   NOTE: Solomon Amendment probably would have failed strict scrutiny because not least restrictive alternative (Amendment requires universities to permit recruiters on campus)

o   NOTE (Feldman): This case shows that government regulations concerning discrimination, while usually a good thing, are not always so (“bitter with the sweet”)

Establishment of Religion[edit | edit source]

Background and Purposes[edit | edit source]

·        Black (Everson): E/C created to protect America from religious conflicts seen in 16th and 17th Century Europe and transplanted to America

o   “Wall of separation”: Originally (from Roger Williams) intended as protection for church; that is, originally the view was that the church needed a wall to protect it from the state

§ By time of Black, however, metaphor equally thought to mean state needs protection from the church

§ A union of government and religion tends to “destroy government and degrade religion” (Engel)

·        Feldman: Black is wrong on his history:

o   The religious violence Black describes occurred in America only at the margins

§ Establishment of religion was transplanted to America, but religious oppression was not

o   There was no single moment of “shock” in the colonies with regard to establishment of religion; rather the concept of “liberty of conscience” slowly gained favor in Protestant thought, which concept ultimately led to the position among many in the colonies that appropriation of taxes to support a religion one does not believe in violates one’s liberty of conscience

§ Virginia in 1785–86  did eliminate a law that provide public support to religions, but the law allowed taxpayers to indicate which religion they wanted their tax dollars to go to, so did not coerce taxpayers into paying to support religions with which they did not agree (although Madison claimed still problematic b/c didn’t allow people to choose which pastor to support)

§ Feldman: Although our rationales for E/C today go beyond mere “liberty of conscience” to the effect of government support of religion on the political process, we haven’t fully discarded the notion that liberty of conscience is an integral part of the reason for the E/C

The Proper Test (Endorsement vs. Coercion)[edit | edit source]

·        (1) Endorsement test (O’Connor, Lynch concurrence; adopted by Allegheny County majority): Whether a reasonable observer (in possession of the relevant facts) would think a particular government action amounts to an endorsement (or disapproval) of religion

o   Two prongs (O’Connor; Lynch concurrence):

§ (i) Purpose: Whether the government (as judged by a reasonable observer) intends to convey a message or endorsement or disapproval of religion

§ (ii) Effect: Whether the government practice has the effect of communicating a message of government endorsement or disapproval of religion


·        (A) No requirement of coercion

o   Feldman: The endorsement and coercion tests are both psychological tests

·        (B) Feldman: Opinion of “reasonable observer” will differ based on (1) what he knows about the factual history; (2) what he knows about the government’s motivations; and (3) where, when, and under what circumstances he observes the challenged conduct

o   RATIONALE: State may not send message about who is and is not a member of the political community

§ Purpose of E/C is to prevent minorities from feeling like second-class citizens

·        O’Connor (Lynch): “The E/C prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person’s standing in the political community. . . . Endorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.  Disapproval sends the opposite message.”

·        NOTE: The test is grounded in equality, not liberty

·        NOTE: O’Connor also says that excessive entanglement between government and religious institutions can also make religion relevant to standing in the political community.

§ Counterargument (Feldman): In a democracy you’re always trying to reconcile majority rule with the protection of minority rights; people’s feelings can’t be protected all the time in a democracy

o   BENEFITS (why superior to Lemon test, according to Feldman):

§ (i) Does not require analysis of what symbol/practice means; rather, asks only what a “reasonable observer” would think

·        Feldman: This is a “trick” b/c the “reasonable person” is always the judge

o   Feldman: Also, this permits judges to transform religious symbols into whatever they want (see Allegheny County)

·        Whether practice or symbol is “secular” is irrelevant; only question is whether there is endorsement

§ (ii) Answers why we have an E/C (Feldman): To avoid marginalizing religious minorities (by making religion relevant to a person’s standing in the political community), in order to keep religious minorities engaged in political life

·        (A) Protection of minority rights (O’Connor): This view “folds” the E/C into a coherent theory of the 1st Amendment, viz., that the 1st Amendment exists to protect minority rights in order to make it easier for minorities to get what they want in the political sphere

o   For O’Connor, the purpose of E/C is equality, not liberty

§ Cf. Engel: If coercion not required for E/C violation, then E/C not about liberty, b/c coercion is about liberty

§ Because equality is what matters, perception (symbolism) matters as well

o   Brandeisian/civic republican view of 1st Amendment: Goal of 1st Amendment is to facilitate participation in public discussion, and E/C exists to keep feelings of marginalization from causing religious minorities to withdraw from the political community

§ Cf. Ely: Constitution limits majority power in situations where majority seeks to entrench its power against minorities

o   ALTERNATIVE VIEW: E/C exists to protect feelings of marginalization — regardless of effect on political participation — simply b/c we don’t people to feel marginalized (further effects of marginalization irrelevant)

§ Feldman: This view of the E/C gives religious groups somewhat more protection than other “losers” in the political process

o   COUNTERARGUMENT (Feldman): Marginalization actually an impulse to organizing politically (suppression breeds passion)

·        (B) Avoiding religious dissension (Breyer): Religion is uniquely divisive, and endorsement test helps keep religion out of politics

o   The issue is divisiveness, not symbolic equality

o   Establishment of religion is divisive on two fronts:

§ (1) Debate about whether to have aid to religion in first place is divisive

§ (2) Debate about how much money to appropriate to religious institutions is divisive, b/c the amount chosen will always benefit some institutions over others

o   UPSHOT: Courts should reach decision that will cause least division; if keeping a display will cause less division then removing it, uphold the display (Van Orden), but if keeping a display will cause more division than striking it down, strike down the display (McCreary)

·        (C) Use of market principles (Zelman): E/C tells us that government should act to encourage the operation of market principles in 1st Amendment analysis, b/c no endorsement when religious aid is result of private, individual decision

o   Connection to Locke: Had Locke come out the other way (said funding of religion required), result would have been that F/E subverts the market by requiring funding where people through political process have decided not to provide it

§ (iii) Enables judges to reach pragmatic results

·        E.g., Lynch and Allegheny County: Christmas need not be officially “secular” to be constitutional

·        E.g., McCreary and Van Orden: Old, longstanding Ten Commandments displays okay; newer displays placed with clear purpose of advancing religion not okay


§ (i) If one takes endorsement test honestly, many references to religion in public life (e.g., “God saves this honorable Court”) unconstitutional

·        Scalia (McCreary dissent): Endorsement test rests on “demonstrably false” principle that government cannot favor religion over nonreligion (e.g., “In God We Trust, pledge of allegiance, prayers in Congress and US Supreme Court)

§ (ii) There is an American “civil religion” incorporating Judeo-Christian elements that is an important part of American society

·        RESPONSE: Background “endorsements” present in the American civil religion are perhaps more problematic than overt endorsement b/c such background endorsements permeate society with messages about who are outsiders and who are insiders in the political community

o   Cf. MacKinnon: Background norms shape identity

§ (iii) The endorsement test involves judicial activism: When a judge asks what a “reasonable observer” would think, the judge is really just asking what she thinks

·        The test is ambiguous and indeterminate, allowing judicial manipulation

·        UPSHOT: The endorsement test empowers judges to dictate to the community answers to contested metaphysical questions that contravene the community’s political preferences (e.g., Kitzmiller)

§ (iv) The endorsement test infantilizes religious minorities

·        Endorsement test says we need to protect religious minorities from having their feelings hurt

·        (2) Coercion test: Whether the government action coerces religious participation

o   Favored by Scalia, Kennedy (who finds coercion more often than Scalia), and Feldman

§ Scalia’s position: “Coercion” does not encompass psychological (indirect) coercion; coercion exists only if the law requires and punishes failure to engage in religious practices

·        Lee dissent: “The coercion that was a hallmark of historical establishment of religion was coercion of religious orthodoxy and of financial support by force of law and threat of penalty.”

§ Kennedy’s position (Lee) “Coercion” does encompass psychological (indirect) coercion, where children are concerned (and where children cannot realistically avoid the coercive acts)

·        For Kennedy’s full position see his Allegheny County opinions (p.1319)

§ Feldman’s position: If (a) no coercion and (b) no financial support to religion, no E/C violation

o   Argument against coercion test (Souter, Lee concurrence): Coercion is a F/E question — if there is coercion then by definition there’s a F/E violation — so E/C can’t be about coercion b/c if E/C is only about coercion then E/C is a nullity

§ RESPONSE (Feldman): The view of the Founders was that the F/E meant government could not stop you from performing religious exercises (coercion not to worship), while the E/C meant government could not force you to perform the government’s preferred religious exercises (coercion to worship, in government’s preferred manner)

·        So, for Founders, F/E and E/C were both about coercion, just in different forms

o   Distinction between upshot of E/C claim and upshot of F/E & F/S claims: If π wins F/E or F/S claim π gets an exemption, but if π wins E/C claim majority must change social practices for sake of the minority

§ That is, in the E/C context the doctrinal consequence of psychological pressure on the minority to conform is that the majority has to change its practice, whereas in the F/E and F/S contexts the doctrinal consequence is that the minority gets an exemption from the rules the majority must follow

§ Note that the JWs in Barnette felt just as much pressure to conform as the children in Lee, yet the Barnette Court merely granted the JWs an exemption; it did not require the school to discontinue the pledge

·        Feldman: This is why Engel and Abington are seen as “actively secularizing” decisions in the sense that Barnette was not

·        Comparison between tests:

o   (a) Coercion:

§ (i) Better from an originalist perspective (sounds principled, which Kennedy likes)

§ (ii) Today covers only religious display cases

§ (iii) Permits civic religion

o   (b) Endorsement:

§ (i) Better from a political theory/protection of minority rights perspective (requires contextual analysis, which O’Connor likes)

§ (ii) Today covers both (a) religious display and (b) institutional support (money) cases

§ (iii) Technically disallows civic religion, but in practice is tweaked to allow civic religion (intellectual dishonesty problem)

Subsidies[edit | edit source]

·        (1) Parochial schools:

o   (a) Transportation (busing) to and from school (Everson): Where state subsidizes transportation to school for all students (regardless of religion), no E/C violation for state also to subsidize transportation to parochial schools

§ RATIONALE: E/C requires that state be neutral in its relations with religion; it does not require state to be religion’s adversary (i.e., state may not favor, but also need not handicap, religion)

o   (b) Parental tax deductions for education expenses (Mueller): Where state permits all parents of schoolchildren to deduct their children’s educational expenses (“facial neutrality”), no E/C violation

§ RATIONALE: Statute is (facially) neutral between religious and nonreligious schools; E/C doesn’t mean government can’t provide public goods (like police) to public and religious school alike

·        Also, aid is indirect b/c made through choices of individual parents

·        Court found purpose of law was to “defray” the cost of parent’s educational expenses, a legitimate secular purpose

§ COUNTERARGUMENT: BUT, despite the statute’s facial neutrality, we all know that the political reality is that this statute was designed to aid religious schools, and the great bulk of deductions are taken by parents of children in religious school

·        I.e., although provision’s purpose is secular, primary effect is to advance religion, so provision should fail Lemon’s second prong

§ RESPONSE: Why should we be required to disfavor religion (by not permitting deductions for parents who send children to religious schools) when we wouldn’t be required to disfavor other ideas? — otherwise, would seem to be discriminating against religion

o   (c) Vouchers (Zelman): No E/C violation where government aid program that has effect of providing aid to private religious schools:

§ (i) Is (facially) neutral with respect to religion; and

§ (ii) Provides that assistance directly to broad class of citizens, who then in turn direct the aid to religious school wholly as a result of independent, private choice

·        IMPORTANT: No E/C violation b/c funding mediated through private individual choices (market mechanism)

·        UPSHOT: Any aid to religion incidentally resulting from private, individual choices is not attributable to the government, so no E/C violation (b/c no endorsement or coercion)

o   Feldman: This is the “romantic” conception of the 1st Amendment: Choices are the result of individual agency (“liberty of conscience”), and such choices are not affected by the structure of society

o   Feldman: Here we see the operation of market principles in 1st Amendment analysis: Where the market is working (b/c of individual choice-making), the courts should stay out of the way; E/C should not act as a limit on the market

§ NOTE: Under Lemon vouchers would be an E/C violation b/c although purpose is secular, primary effect is to advance religion b/c most recipients use the vouchers to attend private schools with mandatory religious training; however, after Rosenberger (and under the endorsement test) Lemon’s effect prong is irrelevant

§ NOTE (Feldman): That fact that vouchers didn’t really take off after Zelman shows that liberty of conscience is still an animating constitutional value today, inasmuch as populace decided not to fund schools with views some taxpayers do not support

o   Everson v. Board of Education (U.S. 1947, pp.1247, 1338): State law subsidized transportation to and from school for all students regardless of whether they attended a public or a parochial school

§ NOTE: This is the first case in which the US Supreme Court (a) applied the E/C and (b) applied the 1st Amendment against the states

o   Mueller v. Allen (U.S. 1983, p.1341): State law permitted parental tax deduction for education expenses; most parents who took deduction claimed it for parochial school tuition

o   Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (U.S. 2002, p.1356): Ohio created voucher program under which parents could receive tuition credits to send their children to private schools; program used mostly by non-Catholic students to attend Catholic schools

§ Argument that the program violates E/C b/c coercive (Souter dissent): Voucher program appears to give parents a choice, but it’s actually a false (Hobson’s) choice b/c the choice is between a failing public school and a good Catholic school

·        Statistics: 96% of new spots available under program are in religious schools (this also shows that primary effect of program is to advance religion)

·        RESPONSE: It’s perverse to call it a Hobson’s choice to allow parents to choose to send their children better schools; how is giving a choice coercive?

o   Souter’s argument says that the E/C denies children the access to better education

·        (2) Public schools:

o   (a) Released-time religious instruction:

§ (i) Where classes held in the public school building (McCollum): E/C violation

·        RATIONALE: In-school released-time classes afforded sectarian groups an “invaluable aid” through “use of the state’s compulsory public school machinery”

·        Counterargument: The state offers religion indirect subsidies all the time without causing state coercion

§ (ii) Where classes not held in public school building (Zorach): No E/C violation

·        RATIONALE: Public institutions may adjust their schedules to accommodate the needs of religious citizens (“We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”)

o   Government not required to show “callous indifference” to religious groups; that would be to prefer those who do not believe over those who do believe

o   (b) Student activities funds (Rosenberger): No E/C violation where program is neutral toward religion, funds are “generally available,” and religion is merely one of many viewpoints expressed

§ Endorsement test: No endorsement where funds are equally available to students expressing religious and nonreligious views

§ IMPORTANT doctrinal change after Rosenberger: Where government creates a neutral program for funding speech:

·        (i) Direct religious aid not only permitted (i.e., no longer an E/C violation) so long as not an endorsement, but

·        (ii) Direct support to religion now required (under F/S clause!!!) if sought by religious groups

·        EXPLANATION: Court came to see evangelical Christians as an embattled minority b/c were being denied funding available to everyone else, so the issue became protecting minority rights (against discrimination) rather than aid to religion

o   Connection to O’Connor’s view of purpose behind E/C: Protection of minority rights

·        ALSO, effect prong of Lemon basically now dead letter

o   Moral education (Feldman): Widely accepted that public school should include a moral component in instruction; b/c of this, prior to 1950s soft Protestantism (Bible ready, Lord’s Prayer) were the norm in public schools

o   McCollum v. Board of Education (U.S. 1948, p.1290): Public school had released-time program for religious instruction; released-time classes held in school building

o   Zorach v. Clauson (U.S. 1952, p.1291): Public school had released-time program for religious instruction, but in this case the released-time classes took place offsite

§ Dissent (Jackson): Douglas just being political here b/c wanted to be President and would need support of Catholics if he ran

o   Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of UVA (U.S. 1995, p.1350):

·        The Lemon Test (Lemon v. Kurtzman, U.S. 1971, p.1290): To withstand E/C attack, a statute:

o   (1) Must have a secular legislative purpose

§ PROBLEM: This first prong requires inquiry into the motivation for a law; however, (i) discerning legislative purpose (especially in a multimember body) may be difficult, and (ii) a law originally passed with a religious purpose may now have a perfectly valid secular purpose

§ Feldman: It is not enough for a law to be consistent with a religious belief or practice to violate the E/C; rather, the purpose of the law must be to further that belief or practice

§ [CB: How do you reconcile the first prong of Lemon with the cases permitting accommodations of religion (Zorach, F/E cases), which are sometimes required by the F/E Clause]

o   (2) The statute’s principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and

o   (3) Must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion

§ PROBLEM: Some entanglement is necessary to ensure that government aid does not principally or primarily promote religious purposes

·        Accommodations of religion (Zorach):

o   F/E accommodations: Constitutionally required (see Sherbert)

o   Legislative accommodations: Permissible, not constitutionally required:

§ PROBLEM: Often difficult to distinguish between permissible legislative accommodation (as in Zorach) and an E/C violation (e.g., if too many people take advantage of the accommodation)

·        I.e., almost every F/E claim can be recast as an E/C violation

o   Majoritarian expression or minority rights?

§ Sometimes we may want to view accommodations of religion as an expression of the majority’s political preferences, but other times we may be more concerned about protecting minorities who may feel offended or excluded by the majority’s decision

School Prayer and Bible Reading[edit | edit source]

·        School Prayer:

o   (1) State-composed classroom prayer (Engel): E/C violation

§ IMPORTANT: Coercion not required for E/C violation; E/C violated by enactment of laws which establish an official religion whether or not those laws operate to coerce nonobserving persons

o   (2) Prayer by private party at school event:

§ (a) Prayer-giver invited by school official (Lee): E/C violation

·        RATIONALE: Nonbelieving student at graduation would feel (social/peer/ coercive) pressure to conform, and to say student has option of not attending graduation (a significant occasion in a student’s life) to avoid such pressure is unrealistic

o   Can also argue endorsement of religion: An employee of the state acting as an agent of the state is asking a rabbi to make a religious statement in a state-sponsored forum

·        RESPONSE (Scalia): The “psychological coercion” test is boundless and manipulable; also, graduation is a ritual, not compelled classroom attendance

·        NOTE (Kennedy): There is a “heightened concern” with protecting against coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary school context

§ (b) Prayer-giver selected by vote of student body (Santa Fe): E/C violation

·        Santa Fe: Attendance at a  high school football game in Texas is as much of a non-choice for students as attendance at graduation; Court also looks behind school policy to find purpose of encouraging religious messages

o   RATIONALE: Purpose of policy is to encourage religious messages to be delivered; students will perceive prayer as having school approval b/c school has control over means of communication; and coercion present b/c policy forces people to choose between hearing prayer or not attending game

§ Chemerinsky (p.1221): Santa Fe stands for the proposition that prayer at school functions is impermissible if the government encourages or facilitates the religious activity

o   Psychological coercion: The school prayer cases rest on the idea that merely creating a school atmosphere promoting religion — whether there is overt coercion or not — is sufficient to violate the E/C, because children will feel coerced to conform by social or peer pressure

o   Engel v. Vitale (U.S. 1962, p.1293): New York school district required daily, voluntary recital of deliberately inclusive, state-composed nondenominational prayer

§ School prayer places “power, prestige, and financial support of government” behind a particular religious belief

§ NOTE: This case is distinct from Barnette; in Barnette the JWs merely wanted an exemption; they didn’t argue (like π’s here) that no one should be able to say the pledge

o   Lee v. Weisman (U.S. 1992, p.1297): Principal asks rabbi to give nondenominational prayer at middle school graduation

§ Dissent (Scalia): No coercion present because (i) students have many ways for expressing nonparticipation and (ii) students don’t even have to attend graduation

o   Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (U.S. 2000, p.1303): Previous school policy was to have prayers at high school football games; school changes policy so that, now, student body votes on whether to have a student speaker b/f football games and on who that speaker will be; student body votes to have speakers before games

§ Feldman: Were prayer at games spontaneous, no E/C problem b/c no statue action (also a F/E issue now)

·        School Bible Reading:

o   Voluntary Bible reading (Schempp): E/C violation

§ RATIONALE: E/C requires strict neutrality (neither advancement nor inhibition) on matters of religion, and Bible reading is a “religious exercise” that advances religion

§ NOTE: Court holds that the size of establishment (encroachment on 1st Amendment) irrelevant to whether an E/C violation has in fact occurred (“The breach of neutrality that is today a trickling stream may all too soon become a raging current.”)

o   Abington School District v. Schempp (U.S. 1963, p.1294): Pennsylvania law required that ten verses from Bible be read without comment at the beginning of each school day; children could be excused from the reading upon the written request of parents

Teaching of Evolution vs. Creationism/Intelligent Design in Public Schools[edit | edit source]

·        (1) Evolution (Epperson): State may not ban the teaching of evolution, where the purpose of the ban is religious, not secular

o   Potential evidence that a law had a religious purpose (Epperson):

§ (i) Ads in newspapers promoting law on religious grounds

§ (ii) Letters from the public promoting law on religious grounds

o   NOTE: The doctrine that a law with a religious purposes violates the E/C was later enshrined as the first prong of the Lemon test

·        (2) Creationism/Intelligent design (Edwards): State may not require the teaching of creationism or intelligent design, where the purpose of the requirement is religious, not secular

o   Edwards: A law whose purpose is religious, not secular, violates Lemon’s first prong

o   Intelligent design is not science, b/c: (Kitzmiller)

§ (i) ID invokes and permits a supernatural creation;

§ (ii) ID employs the “same flawed and illogical contrived dualism” (nonfalsifiability) that doomed creation science; and

§ (iii) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community

·        Sociological view of science: Science is what scientists say science is

o   Feldman: BUT, ought scientists, as a legal matter, be able to say what science is and is not?  What happens when the polity and the scientific community disagree about what constitutes science?

·        Epperson v. Arkansas (U.S. 1968, p.S-18): Arkansas state law prohibited the teaching of evolution

o   Possible secular purpose for the law (Feldman): Legislators could have been worried about social Darwinism, the view that (i) the weak should be allowed to suffer in furtherance of survival of the fittest and (ii) eugenics — designing society so that only the fittest survive — should be encouraged

·        Edwards v. Aguillard (U.S. 1987, p.1307): Louisiana state law said that if evolution is taught creation science must also be taught

o   Court (Brennan) found that law’s primary purpose was to provide an advantage to a particular religious doctrine that rejects the factual basis of evolution

o   Possible secular purposes for the law (Scalia in dissent):

§ (i) Furthering academic freedom: Give teachers room to teach both sides of debate (evolution and creation science)

§ (ii) Give students information about both sides so they can choose for themselves

·        Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (M.D. Pa. 2005, p.S-21): Creationists reframe their theory as “intelligent design,” which argues for the likelihood of an intelligent designer on grounds that: (i) the structures evolution purports to explain are so complex that they suggest the presence of an intelligent designer, and (ii) evolutionists have failed to demonstrate many of the requisite intermediate forms (e.g., proto-eyes) necessary to their theory

Public Religious Displays[edit | edit source]

·        (1) Only religious components (Allegheny County): E/C violation

·        (2) Both secular and religious components (Lynch/Allegheny County): No E/C violation

o   Test (Lynch): Whether the display, in reality, tends to establish a religion


§ Lynch (Burger, majority): Benefit to religion is “indirect, remote, and incidental”; celebrating Christmas and depicting the holiday’s origins are legitimate “secular” purposes

§ Allegheny County (O’Connor, concurrence): Menorah is religious, BUT overall message of mixed display is recognition of pluralism, not endorsement of religion

o   Explaining O’Connor’s flip (Feldman): It can’t just be that the presence of secular components counterbalances the religious components — a sign saying “Christianity is the right religion” would be struck down even if put in middle of otherwise secular display — rather, presence of secular items must transform the display

§ Rule of “three plastic reindeer” (Christmas “kitsch”) (Feldman): In contemporary America, there are two Christmases: (i) religious Christmas, and (ii) “kitsch” Christmas.

·        “Kitsch” Christmas — tacky, lowbrow, mass-produced — is secular and “American” in emphasis, not religious

·        Feldman: The presence of “kitsch” Christmas iconography has a transformative or denuding effect on religious iconography that may be included in a kitsch display

·        (3) Ten Commandments displays:

o   (a) New display where reasonable observer would know government purpose is to get a religious document on the walls of the courthouse — that is, to advance religion (McCreary County): E/C/ violation


·        Souter (majority): A reasonable observer would suspect county was simply reaching for a way to keep a religious document on the walls of a courthouse; display fails Lemon’s first prong b/c has a religious purpose

·        Breyer (concurrence): Display put up to make a fuss

o   (b) Old display to which no one has objected for 40 years surrounded by secular displays and monuments (Van Orden): No E/C/ violation

§ RATIONALE (Breyer, concurrence): If a display survives for many years without controversy, that indicates a reasonable observer would not view the challenged conduct as constitutionally problematic; old, unchallenged display not divisive

·        Lynch v. Donnelly (U.S. 1984, p.1313): Christmas display in park owned by nonprofit organization in heart of downtown shopping district; display contains Santa Clause, plastic reindeer, candy canes, Christmas tree, carolers, “Seasons Greetings” sign, clown, elephant, teddy bear, talking wishing well, and a crèche

o   Purpose of display: Seems to be largely commercial; putting people in the mood to shop

o   The Lemon dilemma (Feldman): Why Burger doesn’t apply the Lemon test: Validating display under Lemon would require declaring a secular holiday — divorcing it from its religious history/ significance — which would be preposterous

§ I.e., applying Lemon test would mean either declaring Christmas unconstitutional or declaring it a secular holiday, neither of which is a viable option

§ O’Connor’s answer (concurrence): The endorsement test (see above)

·        O’Connor: The evident purpose of the display is to celebrate a public holiday through its traditional symbols; the display, when evaluated in light of its overall setting, clearly does not have the effect of endorsing religion

·        Allegheny County v. ACLU (U.S. 1989, p.(1319): Freestanding crèche struck down on courthouse steps struck down, BUT display with Christmas tree, menorah, and “salute to liberty” sign upheld

o   O’Connor’s endorsement test applied as governing rationale


§ Blackmun (majority): Neither Christmas tree nor menorah are religious symbols here; display simply recognizes that Christmas and Chanukah are both part of the winter holiday season, which season has attained a secular status in our society

§ O’Connor (concurrence): The menorah is religious, but taken as a whole the display conveys a message of pluralism and freedom of belief; the display is a recognition of pluralism rather than an endorsement of religion

o   Feldman: As Blackmun’s and O’Connor’s disagreement shows, the endorsement test allows judges to transform religious symbols into whatever they want

§ Menorah can mean “we like all religion (Blackmun) or “we’re tolerant of all religion” (O’Connor)

·        McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky (U.S. 2005, p.1324): Starting in 1999, county goes through three iterations of efforts to get Ten Commandments displayed in public courthouse

o   Scalia (dissent): E/C does not mandate neutrality between religion and nonreligion; here, government is denying people’s liberty interest to act in self-determination

·        Van Orden v. Perry (U.S. 2005, p.1330): Ten Commandments display placed on grounds of Texas statehouse 40 years ago by “Fraternal Order of Eagles” as part of effort to combat juvenile delinquency