Friday, December 27, 2013

Members of City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent case brief

Members of City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent case brief summary
466 U.S. 789 (1984)

Appellees, a political corporation and a political sign service company, filed an action alleging that appellant city's ordinance prohibiting the posting of signs on public property violated their freedom of speech within the meaning of the First Amendment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the ordinance was unconstitutional on its face. Appellant challenged the judgment.

The appellate court concluded that the ordinance was vulnerable to an overbreadth challenge because it was an overinclusive response to traffic concerns and not the least drastic means of preventing interference with the normal use of public property.

  • However, the Supreme Court concluded that the case was not an appropriate case to entertain a facial challenge based on overbreadth. 
  • The Court found nothing in the record to indicate that the ordinance would have any different impact on any third parties' interests in free speech than it had on appellees. 
  • The Court determined that appellant's interest in avoiding visual clutter was sufficiently substantial to provide an acceptable justification for a content-neutral prohibition against the posting of signs on public property. 
  • The Court also determined that the scope of the restriction on appellees' expressive activity was not substantially broader than necessary to protect appellant's interest in eliminating visual clutter. 
  • By banning the signs, appellant did no more than eliminate the exact source of the evil it sought to remedy. 
  • The ordinance curtailed no more speech than was necessary to accomplish its purpose.
The Court found the challenged ordinance constitutional, reversed the judgment of the appellate court, and remanded the case to that court.

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