Brief Fact Summary. The Respondent, Finley (Respondent), was denied a federal grant to fund her performance art after the Petitioner, National Endowment for the Arts (Petitioner), determined that it might offend the general standards of decency.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A law is facially valid as long as it does not suppress disfavored viewpoints.
Entertainment, as well as political and ideological speech, is protected; motion pictures, programs broadcast by radio and television, and live entertainment, such as musical and dramatic works, fall within the First Amendment guarantee.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is the new law invalid on its face and therefore a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech?
Held. No. This law is constitutional as it does not interfere with freedom of speech rights and it is not overly vague.
Dissent. The “decency and respect” inclusion criteria makes this a view-point based decision that should not be exempted from the general rule that makes content-based laws unconstitutional.
Discussion. This law only requires the Petitioner to consider factors of decency. It does not mandate that all explicit works be denied federal grants. Therefore, it is not an unconstitutional content-based rule.