Thomas v. Chicago Park Dist., 001249

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtScalia
Citation534 U.S. 316,122 S.Ct. 775,151 L.Ed.2d 783
PartiesCAREN CRONK THOMAS and WINDY CITY HEMP DEVELOPMENT BOARD, PETITIONERS v. CHICAGO PARK DISTRICTUnited States Supreme Court
Decision Date15 January 2002
Docket Number001249

534 U.S. 316
122 S.Ct. 775
151 L.Ed.2d 783

CAREN CRONK THOMAS and WINDY CITY HEMP DEVELOPMENT BOARD, PETITIONERS
v.
CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT

No. 00-1249.

United States Supreme Court

Argued December 3, 2001
Decided January 15, 2002

Syllabus

Respondent Chicago 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 Districts general superintendent and then to state court. Petitioners, dissatisfied that the Park District has denied some, though not all, of their applications for permits to hold rallies advocating the legalization of marijuana, filed a 42 U.S. C. 1983 suit, alleging, inter alia, that the ordinance is unconstitutional on its face. The District Court granted the Park District summary judgment, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Held: 1.A content-neutral permit scheme regulating uses (including speech uses) of a public forum need not contain the procedural safeguards described in Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51. Freedman is inapposite because, unlike the motion picture censorship scheme in that case, the Park Districts ordinance is not subject-matter censorship but content-neutral time, place, and manner regulation of the use of a public forum. None of the grounds for denying a permit has anything to do with the content of speech. Indeed, the ordinance is not directed at communicative activity as such, but to all activity in a public park. And its object is not to exclude particular communication, but to coordinate multiple uses of limited space; assure preservation of park facilities; prevent dangerous, unlawful, or impermissible uses; and assure financial accountability for damage caused by an event. Pp.47.

2. A content-neutral time, place, and manner regulation can be applied in such a manner as to stifle free expression. It thus must contain adequate standards to guide an officials decision and render that decision subject to effective judicial review. See Niemotko v. Maryland, 340 U.S. 268, 271. The Park Districts ordinance meets this test. That the ordinance describes grounds on which the Park District may deny a permit does not mean that it allows the Park District to waive requirements for some favored speakers. Such a waiver would be unconstitutional, but this abuse must be dealt with if and when a pattern of unlawful favoritism appears, rather than by insisting upon a rigid, no-waiver application of the permit requirements. Pp. 79.

3.Because the Park Districts ordinance is not subject to Freedmans procedural requirements, this Court does not reach the question whether the requirement of prompt judicial review means a prompt judicial determination or the prompt commencement of judicial proceedings. Pp. 910. 227 F.3d 921, affirmed.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

On writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the seventh circuit

Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether a municipal park ordinance requiring individuals to obtain a permit before conducting large-scale events must, consistent with the First Amendment, contain the procedural safeguards described in Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51 (1965).

I

Respondent, the Chicago Park District (Park District), is responsible for operating public parks and other public property in Chicago. See Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 70, 1505/7.01 (2001). Pursuant to its authority to establish by ordinance all needful rules and regulations for the government and protection of parks and other property under its jurisdiction, 1505/7.02, the Park District adopted an ordinance that requires a person to obtain a permit in order to conduct a public assembly, parade, picnic, or other event involving more than fifty individuals, or engage in an activity such as creat[ing] or emit[ting] any Amplified Sound. Chicago Park Dist. Code, ch. VII, C.3.a(1), C.3.a(6). The ordinance provides that [a]pplications for permits shall be processed in order of receipt, C.5.a, and the Park District must decide whether to grant or deny an application within 14 days unless, by written notice to the applicant, it extends the period an additional 14 days, C.5.c. Applications can be denied on any of 13...

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413 practice notes
  • BEG Invs., LLC v. Alberti, Civil Action No.: 13–cv–0182 RC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 24, 2015
    ...to reconsideration and direct appeal to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, D.C.Code § 2–510. See Thomas v. Chicago Park Dist., 534 U.S. 316, 323–24, 122 S.Ct. 775, 151 L.Ed.2d 783 (2002) (rejecting challenge based on licensing official's allegedly unduly broad discretion to grant or......
  • Lusk v. Village of Cold Spring, Docket No. 05-4999 CV.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • January 31, 2007
    ...[sic]" that "resulted in renunciation of the censorship of the press." Id. at 713, 51 S.Ct. 625. And in Thomas v. Chicago Park District, 534 U.S. 316, 320, 122 S.Ct. 775, 151 L.Ed.2d 783 (2002), the Court observed that the First Amendment "prohibits a wide assortment of government restraint......
  • Mahoney v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 09-105 (ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • September 30, 2009
    ...of Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Publishing Co., 486 U.S. 750, 108 S.Ct. 2138, 100 L.Ed.2d 771 (1988); and Thomas v. Chicago Park District, 534 U.S. 316, 122 S.Ct. 775, 151 L.Ed.2d 783 (2002), each of which considered whether a licensing regime (or other direct regulation of expression) gave gov......
  • Nat'l Ass'n for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice v. Castille, No. 15–1481.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • August 26, 2015
    ...or do during their legal careers. Therefore, Rule 204 does not “pass judgment on the content of [any] speech.” Thomas v. Chi. Park Dist., 534 U.S. 316, 322, 122 S.Ct. 775, 151 L.Ed.2d 783 (2002) ; see also Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622, 643, 114 S.Ct. 2445, 129 L.Ed.2d 497 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
415 cases
  • BEG Invs., LLC v. Alberti, Civil Action No.: 13–cv–0182 RC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 24, 2015
    ...to reconsideration and direct appeal to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, D.C.Code § 2–510. See Thomas v. Chicago Park Dist., 534 U.S. 316, 323–24, 122 S.Ct. 775, 151 L.Ed.2d 783 (2002) (rejecting challenge based on licensing official's allegedly unduly broad discretion to grant or......
  • Lusk v. Village of Cold Spring, Docket No. 05-4999 CV.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • January 31, 2007
    ...[sic]" that "resulted in renunciation of the censorship of the press." Id. at 713, 51 S.Ct. 625. And in Thomas v. Chicago Park District, 534 U.S. 316, 320, 122 S.Ct. 775, 151 L.Ed.2d 783 (2002), the Court observed that the First Amendment "prohibits a wide assortment of government restraint......
  • Mahoney v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 09-105 (ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • September 30, 2009
    ...of Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Publishing Co., 486 U.S. 750, 108 S.Ct. 2138, 100 L.Ed.2d 771 (1988); and Thomas v. Chicago Park District, 534 U.S. 316, 122 S.Ct. 775, 151 L.Ed.2d 783 (2002), each of which considered whether a licensing regime (or other direct regulation of expression) gave gov......
  • Nat'l Ass'n for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice v. Castille, No. 15–1481.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • August 26, 2015
    ...or do during their legal careers. Therefore, Rule 204 does not “pass judgment on the content of [any] speech.” Thomas v. Chi. Park Dist., 534 U.S. 316, 322, 122 S.Ct. 775, 151 L.Ed.2d 783 (2002) ; see also Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622, 643, 114 S.Ct. 2445, 129 L.Ed.2d 497 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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