Legal Principle at Issue
Whether the court-mandated inclusion of the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc. (GLIB) in Boston’s 1993 St. Patrick’s Day parade violated the First Amendment rights of the private group, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, that the city of Boston authorized to organize the parade.
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the Council, reversing the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
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.
Importance of Case
In contrast with the Massachusetts courts, the Supreme Court held that that the parade was a discernible expressive act and reaffirming that “all speech inherently involves choices of what to say what to leave unsaid,” language adopted from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Public Utilities Commission (1986). Therefore, the mandated-inclusion of GLIB violated the First Amendment rights of the Council.
The Court wrote, “While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government.”