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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Plain Dealer Publishing
City of Lakewood
(Argued the cause for the appellant)
(Argued the cause for the appellee)
Facts of the Case 

Plain Dealer Publishing challenged the constitutionality of a Lakewood city ordinance that authorized its mayor to grant or deny applications, made by publishers, seeking permission to place newsracks on public property. The ordinance merely required Lakewood's mayor to provide an explanation, in the event of a permit denial, while empowering him to subject all permit approvals to whatever "terms and conditions" which he "deemed necessary and reasonable." On appeal from a district court ruling that found the ordinance constitutional, the Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court granted Lakewood's request for certiorari.


Did Lakewood's city ordinance violate freedom of speech rights as protected by the First Amendment?

Decision: 4 votes for Plain Dealer Publishing, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

Yes. The Court held that the licensing ordinance was facially invalid since it gave Lakewood's mayor unbridled discretion to discriminate against permit seekers, based on the content of their publications and viewpoints. This, in turn, promoted self-censorship by publishers and other speakers who sought to curry favor with the mayor's officer in order to secure the approval of their licensing requests. The Court added that while cities may require the periodic licensing of newsracks on public property, even subjecting such procedures to reasonable restrictions, they may not use language which is so open-ended as to give city officials unlimited subjective discretion over permit approvals.

Cite this Page
CITY OF LAKEWOOD v. PLAIN DEALER PUBLISHING. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
CITY OF LAKEWOOD v. PLAIN DEALER PUBLISHING, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"CITY OF LAKEWOOD v. PLAIN DEALER PUBLISHING," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,