468 U.S. 288 (1984), 82-1998, Clark v. Community for Creative Nonviolence

Docket Nº:No. 82-1998
Citation:468 U.S. 288, 104 S.Ct. 3065, 82 L.Ed.2d 221
Party Name:Clark v. Community for Creative Nonviolence
Case Date:June 29, 1984
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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468 U.S. 288 (1984)

104 S.Ct. 3065, 82 L.Ed.2d 221

Clark

v.

Community for Creative Nonviolence

No. 82-1998

United States Supreme Court

June 29, 1984

Argued March 21, 1984

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

Syllabus

In 1982, the National Park Service issued a permit to respondent Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) to conduct a demonstration in Lafayette Park and the Mall, which are National Parks in the heart of Washington, D.C. The purpose of the demonstration was to call attention to the plight of the homeless, and the permit authorized the erection of two symbolic tent cities. However, the Park Service, relying on its regulations -- particularly one that permits "camping" (defined as including sleeping activities) only in designated campgrounds, no campgrounds having ever been designated in Lafayette Park or the Mall -- denied CCNV's request that demonstrators be permitted to sleep in the symbolic tents. CCNV and the individual respondents then filed an action in Federal District Court, alleging, inter alia, that application of the regulations to prevent sleeping in the tents violated the First Amendment. The District Court granted summary judgment for the Park Service, but the Court of Appeals reversed.

Held: The challenged application of the Park Service regulations does not violate the First Amendment. Pp. 293-299.

(a) Assuming that overnight sleeping in connection with the demonstration is expressive conduct protected to some extent by the First Amendment, the regulation forbidding sleeping meets the requirements for a reasonable time, place, or manner restriction of expression, whether oral, written, or symbolized by conduct. The regulation is neutral with regard to the message presented, and leaves open ample alternative methods of communicating the intended message concerning the plight of the homeless. Moreover, the regulation narrowly focuses on the Government's substantial interest in maintaining the parks in the heart of the Capital in an attractive and intact condition, readily available to the millions of people who wish to see and enjoy them by their presence. To permit camping would be totally inimical to these purposes. The validity of the regulation need not be judged solely by reference to the demonstration at hand, and none of its provisions are unrelated to the ends that it was designed to serve. Pp. 293-298.

(b) Similarly, the challenged regulation is also sustainable as meeting the standards for a valid regulation of expressive conduct. Aside from

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its impact on speech, a rule against camping or overnight sleeping in public pars is not beyond the constitutional power of the Government [104 S.Ct. 3067] to enforce. And as noted above, there is a substantial Government interest, unrelated to suppression of expression, in conserving park property that is served by the proscription of sleeping. Pp. 298-299.

227 U.S.App.D.C.19, 703 F.2d 586, reversed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 300. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post p. 301.

WHITE, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The issue in this case is whether a National Park Service regulation prohibiting camping in certain parks violates the First Amendment when applied to prohibit demonstrators from sleeping in Lafayette Park and the Mall in connection with a demonstration intended to call attention to the plight of the homeless. We hold that it does not, and reverse the contrary judgment of the Court of Appeals.

I

The Interior Department, through the National Park Service, is charged with responsibility for the management and maintenance of the National Parks, and is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations for the use of the parks in accordance with the purposes for which they were established.

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16 U.S.C. §§ 1, 1a-1, 3.1 The network of National Parks includes the National Memorial-core parks, Lafayette Park and the Mall, which are set in the heart of Washington, D.C., and which are unique resources that the Federal Government holds in trust for the American people. Lafayette Park is a roughly 7-acre square located across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. Although originally part of the White House grounds, President Jefferson set it aside as a park for the use of residents and visitors. It is a "garden park with a . . . formal landscaping of flowers and trees, with fountains, walks and benches." National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, White House and President's Park, Resource Management Plan 4.3 (1981). The Mall is a stretch of land running westward from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial some two miles away. It includes the Washington Monument, a series of reflecting pools, trees, lawns, and other greenery. It is bordered by, inter alia, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art. Both the Park and the Mall were included in Major Pierre L'Enfant's original plan for the Capital. Both are visited by vast numbers of visitors from around the country, as well as by large numbers of residents of the Washington metropolitan area.

Under the regulations involved in this case, camping in National Parks is permitted only in campgrounds designated for that purpose. 36 CFR § 50.27(a) (1983). No such campgrounds have ever been designated in Lafayette Park or the Mall. Camping is defined as

the use of park land for living accommodation purposes such as sleeping activities, or making preparations to sleep (including the laying down of bedding for the purpose

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of sleeping), or storing personal belongings, or making any fire, or using any tents or . . . other structure . . . for sleeping or doing any digging or earth breaking or carrying on cooking activities.

Ibid. These activities, the regulation provides,

constitute camping when it reasonably appears, in light of all the circumstances, that the participants, in conducting these activities, are in fact using the area as a living accommodation regardless of the intent of the participants or the nature of any other activities in which they may also be engaging.

Ibid. Demonstrations for the airing of views or grievances are permitted in the Memorial-core parks, but for the most part only by Park Service permits. 36 CFR § 50.19 (1983). Temporary structures may be erected for demonstration purposes, but may not be used for camping. 36 CFR § 50.19(e)(8) (1983).2

In 1982, the Park Service issued a renewable permit to respondent Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) to conduct a wintertime demonstration in Lafayette Park and the Mall for the purpose of demonstrating the plight of the

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homeless. The permit authorized the erection of two symbolic tent cities: 20 tents in Lafayette Park that would accommodate 50 people and 40 tents in the Mall with a capacity of up to 100. The Park Service, however, relying on the above regulations, specifically denied CCNV's request that demonstrators be permitted to sleep in the symbolic tents.

CCNV and several individuals then filed an action to prevent the application of the no-camping regulations to the proposed demonstration, which, it was claimed, was not covered by the regulation. It was also submitted that the regulations were unconstitutionally vague, had been discriminatorily applied, and could not be applied to prevent sleeping in the tents without violating the First Amendment. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Park Service. The Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, reversed. Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Watt, 227 U.S.App.D.C.19, 703 F.2d 586 (1983). The 11 judges produced 6 opinions. Six of the judges believed that application of the regulations so as to prevent sleeping in the tents would infringe the demonstrators' First Amendment right of free expression. The other five judges disagreed, and would have sustained the regulations as applied to CCNV's proposed demonstration.3 We granted the Government's petition for certiorari, 464 U.S. 1016 (1983), and now reverse.4

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II

We need not differ with the view of the Court of Appeals that overnight [104 S.Ct. 3069] sleeping in connection with the demonstration is expressive conduct protected to some extent by the First Amendment.5 We assume for present purposes, but do not decide, that such is the case, cf. United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 376 (1968), but this assumption only begins the inquiry. Expression, whether oral or written or symbolized by conduct, is subject to reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions. We have often noted that restrictions of this kind are valid, provided that they are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information. City Council of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789 (1984); United States v. Grace, 461 U.S. 171 (1983); Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. 37, 45-46 (1983); Heffron v. International Society for Krishna Consciousness,

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Inc., 452 U.S. 640, 647-648 (1981); Virginia Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 771 (1976); Consolidated Edison Co. v. Public Service Comm'n of N.Y., 447 U.S. 530, 535 (1980).

It is also true that a message may be delivered by conduct that is intended to be communicative and that, in context, would reasonably be understood...

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