Fees & Permits for Marches, Parades, Rallies

Opinions & Commentaries

Appellants are five "Jehovah's Witnesses" who, with sixty-three others of the same persuasion, were convicted in the municipal court of Manchester, New Hampshire, for violation of a state statute prohibiting a "parade or *571 procession" upon a public street without a special license.

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The Illinois Supreme Court denied a stay of the trial court's injunction prohibiting petitioners from marching, walking, or parading in the uniform of the National Socialist Party of America or otherwise displaying the swastika, and from distributing pamphlets or displaying materials inciting or promoting hatred against Jews or persons of any faith, ancestry, or race, and also denied leave for an expedited appeal. Held: 1. The Illinois Supreme Court's order is a final judgment for purposes of this Court's jurisdiction, since it finally determined the merits of petitioners' claim that the injunction will deprive them of First Amendment rights during the period of appellate review. 2. The State must allow a stay where procedural safeguards, including immediate appellate review, are not provided, and the Illinois Supreme Court's order denied this right. Certiorari granted; reversed and remanded.

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After several violent confrontations between civil rights marchers and local residents in rural Georgia, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners enacted an ordinance that permitted the county administrator to adjust the fee charged for a parade permit, up to a maximum of $1,000, to reflect the estimated cost of maintaining public order during the parade. In January 1989, The Nationalist Movement applied for a permit to demonstrate in opposition to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The county charged a $100 fee that did not include any calculation for expenses incurred by law enforcement authorities, but was based solely on the value of the administrator’s time in issuing the permit. The Movement challenged the fee in federal court. The federal district court rejected the challenge. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the arbitrary fee violated the 1st Amendment.

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Since 1947, the city of Boston has authorized the Council, a private group, to organize the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Council did not admit GLIB to the 1993 parade claiming such an admission would violate the parade’s “traditional religious and social values.” Massachusetts courts required the Council to admit GLIB based on a state public-accommodation law.

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