Case Overview

Legal Principle at Issue

Whether the city’s “anti-picketing” ordinance and “anti-noise” ordinance violated the First Amendment.


The Court found the anti-picketing ordinance overbroad, but upheld the anti-noise ordinance.


Appellant Richard Grayned was convicted for his part in a demonstration in front of West Senior High School in Rockford, Illinois. On April 25, 1969, approximately 200 people—students, their family members, and friends—gathered next to the school grounds. Grayned, whose brother and twin sisters attended the school, was part of this group. The demonstrators marched around on a sidewalk about 100 feet from the school building. Many carried signs that summarized the grievances: “Black cheerleaders to cheer too”; “Black history with black teachers”; “Equal rights, Negro counselors.” After warning the demonstrators, the police arrested 40 of them, including Grayned. Grayned was tried and convicted of violating Rockford’s “anti-picketing” ordinance and “anti-noise” ordinance. A $25 fine was imposed for each violation.

Importance of Case

The Court upheld citizens’ right of access to public forums, protecting their right to express their political views in a variety of public places.

Cite this page