Nearly 20 years after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision the 'Hurley case' is once again a hot topic in the court of public opinion. Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group, 515 U.S. 557 (1995) involved a dispute between organizers of Boston's historic St. Patrick's Day Parade and an outside group seeking to join in the annual march.
At issue was the right to assemble and determine what message is actually conveyed to the
public. Generally, the Court ruled that private organizations, even if
they were planning on and had permits for a public demonstration, were
permitted to exclude groups if those groups presented a message contrary
to the one the organizing group wanted to convey. The Court found that private citizens organizing a public
demonstration may not be compelled by the state to include groups who
impart a message the organizers do not want to be included in their
demonstration, even if such a law had been written with the intent of
preventing discrimination. The right to speak, the Court
reasoned, includes the right to determine "what not to say." In this vein, the unanimous Court said that the Council could not
statutorily be prohibited from excluding the messages of groups it did
not agree with. Effectively, the Council could not be forced to endorse a
message against its will.
For more on the United States Constitution visit our webpage on Federal Primary Law.