Case Analysis: Freedom of Speech Law

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Case Analysis Research Project: Discuss in detail the basis of any challenges to Section. B and evaluate the Big Bad Bruce’s fans’ chances for success.



Freedom of speech, association, political freedom and freedom of public places is common in most states and as such, many cases regarding these freedoms is common. According to the first amendment in the US Bill of Rights, the people have the right to assemble and to free speech. The Supreme Court has therefore provided a list of public places and spaces that expressive activities of right to speech and right to assembly can take place(Henry, 2009). Enthusiastic fans of Big Bad Bruce are planning a gathering at the Baltimore airport to welcome the rock star home and to show support for his candidacy. The Department of transportation in Maryland state owns and controls the Baltimore airportdenies this group of fans permission to gather citing Section B ofairport’s regulations that make it unlawful for any gathering that exceeds 30 people at any given time at the airport unless for travelling purposes.This paper discusses in details the basis of all challenges to Section B citing laws regarding public gatherings in airports in Baltimore, Maryland and the United States. This paper also explores the success chances of Big Bad Bruce’s fans’ regarding their permission to hold their welcome-home gathering for the rock star.

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This paper begins with a case brief that gives a condensed and concise summary of the airport opinion and the legal rule of law that applies to the case. The paper then provides the case background including discussions of previously decided related cases using the actual court opinions of other legal cases and laws. The next section analyses the current and future implications of the case this section will discuss how the case is likely to affect current and future events and business laws using court opinions of other legal cases and publications. Also included in this case analysis research project is my personal opinion of the case. This will be based on legal rationale, principles, resources and other cases. The final section of this research paper will be the summary/conclusion of this case based on legal principles and facts. This paper examines how the Section B can be challenged based on the Federal laws and if the rock star’s fans have chances for success in the lawsuit.

Case brief

This case analysis research paper is about Big Bad Bruce and his fans. The rock star is returning home to announce his running for a political office and 200 enthusiastic fans of Big Bad Bruce are planning a gathering at the Baltimore airport to welcome the rock star home and to show support for his candidacy. The enthusiastic fans of Big Bad Brucewere denied permission to gather at the Baltimore airport to welcome the rock star home and express their support for his candidacy. The gathering would involve 200 fans as well as a speech on political views by Bid Bad Bruce to the fans that will take 15 minutes. The Baltimore airport denied them permission for the gathering citing Section B of the airport regulations that technicallymake it unlawful for more than 30 people to gather anywhere in the airport unless they are gathering for travel related issues. According to the airport authorities, such a prohibition is intended to make the airport free of congestion and ensure that activities go uninterrupted (Maryland State Archives 2013). Following this decision, the fans are challenging Section B and want to gather at the airport in support of the rock star and welcome him home. The issues that arise in this case include whether Section B follows the First Amendment clause on regulations of the freedoms of speech, which includes political freedoms and freedom of association. Another issue that arises is whether Section B violates the First amendment.

Case background

Section B of Baltimore airport regulations prohibits any form of gathering of more than 30 people at the airport unless the gathering is travel related. In this case, several issues arise if the lawsuit goes to court. According to the first amendment of the US constitution, all fans that are US citizens have the freedom to speech including freedom of association and political freedoms. This means that the US government as well as the state governments should and must adhere to this first amendment. However, the said governments may and can dictate time, place and other restrictions on the protected speech through the 14th amendment of the constitution. The welcome gathering and political speech that the fans of Big Bad Bruce want to hold is of this nature.

Saying so, the Department of Transportation in the stateregulates a public forum with reasonable time, space and other restrictions leaving an open end for communication regarding important government interests. Section B is however neutral as it is not specific to speech and so the rock star fans have the chance to challenge it as an overboard rule that allows no room for their speech related activity. Section B prohibits gathering outside the terminals and this makes the law unduly overboard as it restricts any form of gathering above 30 people anywhere in the airport. Some parts of the airport might be considered public forums but airports are generally held as not to be public forums even though they are property of the public. A similar case would be that of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISCON) v. Lee. In this case, the New York and New Jersey port authorities had put in place a regulation prohibiting solicitation of funds and distribution of literature at airport terminals. The ISCON alleged violation of the first amendment by the regulation(Stone, 1987).

On this basis, all public gatherings in the airport can be banned by the concerned authority, which is the Department of Transportation in Maryland, of which it can prohibit the use of the ground for any speech related activity. This will happen if the Section B’s purpose is to ease congestion and promote smooth running of airport activities. There is no provision that enables a person to determine what conduct or activity is precisely prohibited. In this situation, the regulation is overboard as it forbids more conduct than what is considered necessary to achieve the main purpose of the regulation. A similar case would be that of Hague vs. CIO whereby a city official was allowed by an ordinance to decide whether an organization seeking to hold a gathering in public places in the city could do so. In this case, if the city official decided that the meeting would be a risk disturbance, then the request would have been rejected. The law in contention was also vague and overboard (Stone, 1987).

Analysis of Current Implications of Case

This case is challenging Section B in order to obtain access to the airport for the welcome-home gathering. It is also challenging the use of Section B as a means of contradicting the first amendment that guarantees freedom of speech including freedom of association and political freedom. The State of Maryland’s Department of Transportation denied the groups of fans permission to have a public gathering at the airport. If the court upholds this decision, it is going to affect current issues and business laws in different ways. First of all, the first amendment prohibits the US government and the states government from forbidding assembly and speech by imposing putting restraints. In The Hague v. CIO case, the Supreme Court upheld the freedom to assemble by siding with the CIO with its intended activity of peaceably distributing literature and organizing labor meetings .The Supreme Court therefore ruled in the CIO favor showing that the city ordinance violated the First Amendment. The government may limit speech or assembly only when the speech or assembly has a compelling interest like presenting a potential harm to the general public(Van & William, 2003).

Section B tends to violate this law as it prohibits public gathering of the rock star fans as well as his intended public speech. A regulation that limits space, time and manner of assembly or speech may be allowed in some instances mostly in security instances. In the case of Big Bad Bruce’s fans, Section B clearly violated the First Amendment act by prohibiting public gathering anywhere in the airport. Even though airports are not considered public spaces, they are still spaces that the public own. Since the purpose of this law is mainly to decongest the airport and enable smooth running of activities and operations, the fans had the right to assemble as long as they did not cause congestion or interfere with smooth operations of the airport(Van & William, 2003).

Analysis of Future Implications of Case

Since its adoption, the First amendment with its fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition have been intensely debated. The US courts have interpreted these freedoms in various landmark cases hence setting the standards for these freedoms. The cases involving ISCON v. Lee, Hague v. CIO and now Big Bad Bruce’s Fans v. Baltimore Airport involve state and public office regulations that violate the First Amendment. However, airports are not considered public spaces even though the public owns and uses the airports. This case involving Big Bad Bruce raises a question on what public organizations the First Amendment applies.

According to the US constitution, the First Amendment applies to all government levels including public offices and spaces. Even though courts cases have managed to limit the freedoms to assembly and speech in some instances, the First Amendment protects the citizens. Until another amendment or clause is added by the congress, the freedoms of speech and right to peaceably assemble still stand and the state will and shall protect these freedoms. The government may still limit assembly or speech based on the purpose or content of which standard it is difficult to meet. The public should note that the First Amendment does not specifically require the US and states governments to respond to petitions by citizens on the violation of the First Amendment (Emerson, 1963).

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Personal Opinion of Case

It is clear that the First Amendment guarantees all US citizens the freedom of speech, association and political freedom. The first challenge on Section B would therefore be based on that the law is broad and vague. There is no provision that enables a person to determine what conduct or activity is precisely prohibited. In this situation, the regulation is overboard as it forbids more conduct than what is considered necessary to achieve the main purpose of the regulation. The purpose of “avoiding congestion at the airport” and “ensuring smooth airport operations” can therefore,be achieved with less restrictive means of enforcing a regulation(Garvey &Schauer, 1996).

The amendment also imposes restrictions regarding time, space or other manner of restrictions on the freedom of speech and requires that the right to association or assemble is done in a peaceful manner. The restrictions will however depend on whether the restriction restricts assembly or speech in a public or non-public forum. If the airport is a public space because the public owns and uses the place, then the government can have a restriction for the interest of the government and only if it allows alternative open cannel for communication. In this case, Section B is quite ambiguous and vague and so it is not clear if the purpose is to protect the interest of the government, which is a neutral content. In addition, it appears to restrict all forms of gatherings of more than 30 people unless the gathering is travel related. If the court rules that the restriction serves a neutral purpose, it should then specify if it is to promote an interest of the government. As it is stated in the regulation, Section B seems to be putting up restrictions more than it is necessary to enable smooth operations of the airport; the neutral purpose is unlikely to be found. If the court also finds Section B to be tailored for the interest of the government, the court should also state whether an alternative open line of communication was provided for. Section B states that there should be no form of gathering “anywhere” in the airport including concourse, gates, parking lots and grassy knolls so it does not seem to promote a significant interest. Section B should therefore not be held as a valid regulation for a public office since it does not show any narrowly tailored interest and leaves no open channel for alternative communication(Henry, 2009).

Summary/Conclusion of Case

In conclusion, the First Amendment protects the freedoms of association and assembly in the US including Maryland State that houses Baltimore airport. The 200 fans of Big Bad Bruce that are planning to gather for the welcome home gathering and the intended speech of 15 minutes by Big Bad Bruce on political views are protected by this amendment. However, the amendment applies to all levels of government and public spaces. The amendment also provides for a regulation clause limiting the time, space and other restrictions on the speech and association freedoms. However, the regulation should serve a neutral content like government interest and should allow an open channel for communication. Several issues arise in the case that require jurisdiction of the court. As seen in other cases of this nature, the court and the Supreme Court can deliberate on petitions by the public regarding violations of the First amendment. The court will have to make a ruling based on whether the First Amendment is violated, if the regulation serves a narrowed interest and/or if Section B regulation leaves an alternative channel for communication. This case analysis research paperdiscusses how the Section B rule can be challenged based on the law and the chances for success if the rock star’s fans file a lawsuit.


Emerson, T. (1963). Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment. YaleLaw Journal, Vol. 72, no. 5.pp 877-956

Garvey, J. &Schauer, F. (1996). The First Amendment: A Reader. St.Paul, Minn: West Pub. Co.

Henry, C. (2009). Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment. Legislative Attorney. Congressional Research Service.

Maryland State Archives (2013). Department Of Transportation. Maryland.

Stone, G. (1987). The Burger Court and the Political Process: Whose First Amendment? Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 10

Van, A. & William, W. (2003). Reconciling What the First Amendment Forbids with What The Copyright Clause Permits: A Summary Explanation and Review. Law and Contemporary Law Problems, Vol 66, No. 225

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