Freedom of Assembly

January 6, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Law
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Protection of Freedom of Assembly Without this freedom, there would be no interest groups and no political parties.

DeJonge v. Oregon (1937) Public meeting held by Dirk DeJonge and three other Communist Party leaders. The Communist Party was outlawed in Oregon. They were arrested and convicted of holding an illegal meeting.

Supreme Court ruled: “Peaceable assembly for lawful discussion cannot be made a crime.”

General Rule Within reasonable limits, any group and any cause has the right to demonstrate or assemble.

But no group can simply hold a spontaneous demonstration anytime, anywhere, and anyway it chooses.

Assembly on Public Property May use parks, streets, sidewalks, etc. May interfere with the rights of public to use these public facilities.

May advocate unpopular causes. May provoke violent response from observers.

Therefore, parades & demonstrations are subject to some government regulation.

Assembly on Public Property • The state can require permits for parades, protests, demonstrations, etc. • The state can limit use of certain public property to those purposes for which it is intended. (jails, schools, courthouses, etc.)

Assembly and Property Rights • Not allowed to convert private property to your own use. (Example: Cannot “occupy” a mall, etc., to protest.) • Not allowed to block the entrance to an abortion clinic.

Freedom of Assembly versus Right to Privacy

Freedom of Assembly versus Right to Privacy

Remember the discussion about protesting in front of the mayor’s house (Freedom of Speech)? Always remember that Right to Privacy will trump Freedom of Speech and Assembly.

Assembly and Disorder Nazis in Skokie, Illinois Collins v. Smith (1977) Small group of Nazis (25-30) filed for parade permit in suburb of Chicago with many Holocaust survivors. Because of fear/threat of violence from observers, city required $300,000 bond for parade permit to pay for police protection, potential damage, etc.

Assembly and Disorder

This event was so important that several books were written about it.

Assembly and Disorder ACLU assisted the Nazis in challenging the amount of the bond as an attempt by the city to limit the Nazi’s freedom of speech and assembly.

Supreme Court said that no community can use parade permits to interfere with or stifle free speech and assembly. In the end, the Nazi’s decided to hold their demonstration in Chicago. Few people attended and there was little newspaper coverage.

Assembly and Disorder Westboro Baptist Church protests at military funerals. Supreme Court said that they have the right to say hateful things.

Assembly and Disorder

The public “vetoes” the free speech and assembly rights of unpopular groups by threatening counter-demonstrations and/or violence.

Assembly and Disorder Feiner v. New York


• Speaking on a street in Syracuse, Feiner urged African Americans to fight for civil rights. • Made derogatory remarks about Truman, the American Legion, and local politicians. • Crowd gathered and grew hostile. • Three times, the police told Feiner to stop speaking because he was inciting a riot. • He refused and was arrested for disturbing the peace (not because of the content of his speech). Were his free speech and assembly rights violated?

Assembly and Disorder Feiner v. New York (1950)

Supreme Court supported the police and upheld the conviction of Feiner. Police were not trying to suppress Feiner’s rights. They were trying to preserve public order. But must remember, Feiner was inciting a riot with his speech.

Assembly and Disorder Gregory v. City of Chicago


Case was similar to Feiner, but was peaceful and no one was trying to incite the observers, instead the observers were threatening violence.

Supreme Court overturned Gregory’s conviction saying that observers were at fault, not Gregory.

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