Brief Fact Summary. The Respondent, Earl Mosely (Respondent), was convicted on a charge of disorderly conduct stemming from his picketing of Jones Commercial High School, in violation of a Chicago ordinance outlawing his conduct, but permitting the picketing of any school involved in a labor dispute.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The government may not grant the use of a forum to people whose views it finds acceptable, but deny use to those wishing to express less favored or more controversial views and it may not select which issues are worth discussing or debating in public facilities. Once a forum is opened up to assembly or speaking by some groups, government may not prohibit others from assembling or speaking on the basis of what they have to say. Selective exclusions from a public forum may not be based on content alone and may not be justified by reference to content alone.
Issue. At issue is the constitutionality of a Chicago ordinance providing that “a person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly pickets or demonstrates on a public way within 150 feet of any school building while the school is in session, provided that this subsection does not prohibit the peaceful picketing of any school involved in a labor dispute.”
Held. The ordinance is unconstitutional because it makes an impermissible distinction between labor picketing and other peaceful picketing.
The central problem with Chicago's ordinance, according to the court, is that it describes permissible picketing in terms of its subject matter.View Full Point of Law