Constitutional Law: Protection of Individual Rights: First Amendment: Licensing Statutes

  • Licensing statutes. Permit requirements prior to speech-related activities. Before an individual can give a speech on public property or conduct a march or parade, a person needs to obtain a permit to speak.
    • Permit generally constitutional. Provided it is content-neutral, narrowly drawn, non-discriminatory, as far as content, and no unfettered discretion for licensing official.
  • 3 possible scenarios.
    • (1) Licensing statutes that is facially valid (i.e. content neutral, narrowly drawn) but unconstitutional as applied to speaker.
      • RESULT = speaker must apply for permit; speaker may not speak; must seek judicial relief before speaking
    • (2) Licensing statute is void on its face (i.e. mayor has unfettered discretion)
      • RESULT = statute may be ignored; individual may speak. Need not apply for permit and may defend against any subsequent prosecution.
    • (3) Speaker enjoined from speaking.
      • RESULT = injunction must be obeyed even if facially invalid. Invalidity of injunction must be established on appeal – no defense to subsequent charge of contempt.