Basic First Amendment Question
kcolby at CLSNET.ORG
Wed Feb 9 10:24:23 PST 2000
I have a basic question about the administration of a designated public forum. I think I know the answer but I don't know the caselaw supporting the answer and hope other readers can help. Here's my question:
In administering a designated public forum, government officials may determine whether the speech fits within the type of speech for which the forum has been created. (A designated forum may be created for classes of speakers or classes of speech.)
Obviously government officials may ask a group generally what "kind" of speech it intends to express in order to determine whether it can have access to the forum. But how detailed may that inquiry be? In other words, may government officials require a group seeking access to give a detailed prior account of what its actual speech will be? Where is the line between a permissible inquiry as to the category of speech and too detailed an inquiry?
It seems obvious to me that the government cannot require a "script" of what will be said at the meeting before approving the meeting, but what Supreme Court precedent supports that "obvious" conclusion?
The corollary question then is: If the government may ask for a somewhat detailed scripted speech plan in advance to verify that the speech really fits within its approved categories of speech for the forum, may the government after the meeting claim that the group's meeting contained too much speech that was not "on-topic" (i.e., that was outside the script) and, therefore, the group will not be allowed access in the future? (Assume the meeting included a substantial amount of "permissible" on-topic speech.)
Thanks for any case citations anyone has.
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