After several violent confrontations between civil rights marchers and local residents, the Forsyth (Georgia) 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 include any calculation for expenses incurred by law enforcement authorities. 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 First Amendment. A government may regulate competing uses of public forums, such as streets and sidewalks, by imposing permit requirements on those who wish to hold rallies, parades, and marches. Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569 (1941). The regulatory scheme, however, must not delegate overly broad licensing discretion to a government official, must be content-neutral, must be narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and must leave open ample alternative channels for communication. United States v. Grace, 461 U.S. 171 (1983); Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51 (1965).

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