Parade permits

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Local ordinances governing the distribution of parade permits have been a flash point for free speech jurisprudence. A handful of Supreme Court cases have laid out the constitutional requirements that a parade-permit ordinance must satisfy:

  • Freedman v. Maryland: the burden of proving that permit should be denied must rest with state, and judicial review of denials must be available within a brief time period.
  • Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham: parade licensing must be governed by narrow and objective standards, not by whims of authorities
  • Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement: authorities cannot charge more for permits to parades that might cause a disturbance; licensing must be content-neutral; licensing fees must be provided in statute and not assessed by choice of the administrator.
  • Thomas v. Chicago Park District: the requirements of Freedman are required only for content-based prior restraints for expressive use of a public forum
  • Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton: licensee must be able to remain anonymous.