Thursday, November 14, 2013

Boos v. Barry case brief

Boos v. Barry case brief summary
485 U.S. 312 (1988)

Petitioners sought the court's review a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The court district court found the display and congregation clauses of the Civil Code to be constitutional and not in violation of the First Amendment.

Petitioners sought review of a D.C. Code, which banned the display of signs which criticized a foreign government and congregations of more than three individuals within 500 feet of a foreign embassy.

The court of appeals narrowly construed the congregation and display clauses of the statute and found them to be constitutional, which affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of respondents entered by the lower court.

Was the statute unconstitutional?

  • On review, the Supreme Court held that the display clause of the section was in violation of the first amendment protections of the Constitution. 
  • An international treaty can not grant power to congress if the constitution prohibits it.
  • The court rejected arguments that the law was necessary to satisfy international obligations. 
  • The court further found that the congregation clause was not too broad or vague, and did not violate the First Amendment.
Order of the court of appeals was reversed with regard to the constitutionality of the display clause of the statute.  However, the court affirmed the lower court with regards to the constitutionality of the congregation clause.

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