Opinions & Commentaries

[*]Zoning ordinances adopted by the city of Detroit differentiate between motion picture theaters which exhibit sexually explicit "adult" movies and those which do not. The principal question presented by this case is whether that statutory classification is unconstitutional because it is based on the content of communication protected by the First Amendment.[1]Effective November 2, 1972, Detroit adopted the ordinances challenged in this litigation. Instead of concentrating "adult" theaters in limited zones, these ordinances require that such theaters be dispersed. Specifically, an adult theater may not be located within 1,000 feet of any two other "regulated uses" or within 500 feet of a residential area.[2] The term "regulated uses" includes 10 different kinds of establishments in addition to adult theaters.[3]*53 The classification of a theater as "adult" is expressly predicated on the character of the motion pictures which it exhibits. If the theater is used to present "material distinguished or characterized by an emphasis on matter depicting, describing or relating to `Specified Sexual Activities' or `Specified Anatomical Areas,' "[4] it is an adult establishment.[5]*54 The 1972 ordinances were amendments to an "Anti-Skid Row Ordinance" which had been adopted 10 years earlier. At that time the Detroit Common Council made a finding that some uses of property are especially injurious to a neighborhood when they are concentrated in limited areas.[6] The decision to add adult motion picture theaters and adult book stores to the list of businesses which, apart from a special waiver,[7] could not be located within 1,000 feet of two other "regulated uses," was, in part, a response to the significant growth in the number *55 of such establishments.[8] In the opinion of urban planners and real estate experts who supported the ordinances, the location of several such businesses in the same neighborhood tends to attract an undesirable quantity and quality of transients, adversely affects property values, causes an increase in crime, especially prostitution, and encourages residents and businesses to move elsewhere.

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438 U.S. 726 (1978) FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION v. PACIFICA FOUNDATION ET AL.     No. 77-528. Supreme Court of United States.    Argued April 18, 19, 1978. Decided July 3, 1978. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.*728 Joseph A. Marino argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Robert R. Bruce and Daniel M. Armstrong.Harry M. Plotkin argued the cause for respondent Pacifica Foundation. With him on the brief were David Tillotson and Harry F. Cole. Louis F. Claiborne argued the cause for *729 the United States, a respondent […]

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The issue in this case is whether a National Park Service regulation prohibiting camping in certain parks violates the First Amendment when applied to prohibit demonstrators from sleeping in Lafayette Park and the Mall in connection with a demonstration intended to call attention to the plight of the homeless. We hold that it does not and reverse the contrary judgment of the Court of Appeals.

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This case involves a constitutional challenge to a zoning ordinance, enacted by appellant city of Renton, Washington, that prohibits adult motion picture theaters from locating within 1,000 feet of any residential zone, single- or multiple-family dwelling, church, park, or school. Appellees, Playtime Theatres, Inc., and Sea-First Properties, Inc., filed an action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington seeking a declaratory judgment that the Renton ordinance violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments and a permanent injunction against its enforcement. The District Court ruled in favor of Renton and denied the permanent injunction, but the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded for reconsideration. 748 F. 2d 527 (1984). We noted probable jurisdiction, 471 U. S. 1013 (1985), and now reverse the judgment of the Ninth Circuit.[1]*44 In May 1980, the Mayor of Renton, a city of approximately 32,000 people located just south of Seattle, suggested to the Renton City Council that it consider the advisability of enacting zoning legislation dealing with adult entertainment uses. No such uses existed in the city at that time. Upon the Mayor's suggestion, the City Council referred the matter to the city's Planning and Development Committee. The Committee held public hearings, reviewed the experiences of Seattle and other cities, and received a report from the City Attorney's Office advising as to developments in other cities. The City Council, meanwhile, adopted Resolution No. 2368, which imposed a moratorium on the licensing of "any business. . . which . . . has as its primary purpose the selling, renting or showing of sexually explicit materials." App. 43. The resolution contained a clause explaining that such businesses "would have a severe impact upon surrounding businesses and residences." Id., at 42.

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The question before us is whether the First Amendment prohibits a plaintiff from recovering damages, under state promissory estoppel law, for a newspaper's breach of a promise of confidentiality given to the plaintiff in exchange for information. We hold that it does not.

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The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns and operates the Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark airports, adopted regulations prohibiting persons or groups from soliciting money or distributing literature within the terminals. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is a not-for-profit religious corporation whose members perform a ritual known as sankirtan, which consists of going into public places, disseminating literature, and soliciting funds to support the religion. The Society challenged the Port Authority's regulations on the grounds that the regulations deprived the Society's members of their free speech rights under the First Amendment. The trial court ruled in favor of the Society, holding that the airports were public forums and that the regulations were too broad. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the airports were not public forums and that the ban on solicitations was reasonable. The Court of Appeals, however, affirmed the trial court's ruling that the ban on distributing literature violated the First Amendment. When evaluating a governmental regulation of speech on government-owned property, the property first must be categorized as a traditional public forum, a designated public forum, or a nonpublic forum. Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. 37 (1983). Traditional public forums are places, such as streets and sidewalks, where public discourse and debate have traditionally occurred. Designated public forums are places, such as university auditoriums, that the government has expressly opened to certain types of expression. Nonpublic forums are all other government-owned property. Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., 473 U.S. 788 (1985). Any regulation of speech in a public forum, traditional or designated, must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest. A regulation of speech in a nonpublic forum, however, need only be reasonable and content-neutral. Perry Education Ass'n. v. Perry Local Educators' Ass'n., 460 U.S. 37 (1983).

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