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Police Department of the City of Chicago v. Mosley

Citation. 408 U.S. 92, 92 S. Ct. 2286, 33 L. Ed. 2d 212, 1972 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.

A city had an ordinance prohibiting picketing next to a school.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Once a forum becomes public the government cannot prohibit speech there based on its content.


Mosley (Respondent) is a postal worker who picketed a high school in Chicago for seven months. During school hours he picketed by himself with a sign accusing the school of discrimination and using racial quotas. The protest was always peaceful, orderly, and quiet. Then the City of Chicago passed an ordinance prohibiting picketing next to a school.


Is selective exclusion of picketing from a public place constitutional?


No. The ordinance is a content-based prohibition and not a proper time, place, and manner restriction.


The ordinance is defective because it discriminates based on the nature of the picket. It operates as a censor of what is publicly acceptable expression and what is not.

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