THOMAS v. CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
00-1249
Petitioner 
Thomas
Respondent 
Chicago Park District
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

The Chicago Park District is responsible for operating public parks and other public property in Chicago. Pursuant to its authority, the Park District adopted an ordinance requiring individuals to obtain a permit before conducting large-scale events in public parks. The ordinance provides that the Park District may deny a permit on any of 13 specified grounds, must process applications within 28 days, and must explain its reasons for a denial. An unsuccessful applicant may appeal, first, to the Park District's general superintendent and then to state court. The Windy City Hemp Development Board applied on several occasions for permits to hold rallies advocating the legalization of marijuana. Some permits were granted and others were denied. Ultimately, the Board filed suit, alleging that the ordinance is unconstitutional on its face. The District Court granted the Park District summary judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Question 

Must a municipal park ordinance requiring individuals to obtain a permit before conducting large-scale events must, consistent with the First Amendment, contain certain procedural safeguards?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Chicago Park District, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

No. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that the First Amendment free speech guarantee does not require the Park District to initiate litigation every time the agency denied a permit for an event or specify a deadline for judicial review of a challenge to the denial of a permit. The Court reasoned that the licensing scheme was not based on subject-matter censorship, but rather content-neutral time, place, and manner regulation of the use of a public forum thus making the ordinance constitutional. "On balance, we think the permissive nature of the ordinance furthers, rather than constricts, free speech," wrote Justice Scalia for the Court.

Cite this Page
THOMAS v. CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_1249>.
THOMAS v. CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_1249 (last visited September 10, 2014).
"THOMAS v. CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_1249.