Clark v. Commun. for Nonviolence
Annotate this Case
468 U.S. 288 (1984)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Clark v. Commun. for Nonviolence, 468 U.S. 288 (1984)
Clark v. Community for Creative Nonviolence
Argued March 21, 1984
Decided June 29, 1984
468 U.S. 288
In 1982, the National Park Service issued a permit to respondent Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) to conduct a demonstration in Lafayette Park and the Mall, which are National Parks in the heart of Washington, D.C. The purpose of the demonstration was to call attention to the plight of the homeless, and the permit authorized the erection of two symbolic tent cities. However, the Park Service, relying on its regulations -- particularly one that permits "camping" (defined as including sleeping activities) only in designated campgrounds, no campgrounds having ever been designated in Lafayette Park or the Mall -- denied CCNV's request that demonstrators be permitted to sleep in the symbolic tents. CCNV and the individual respondents then filed an action in Federal District Court, alleging, inter alia, that application of the regulations to prevent sleeping in the tents violated the First Amendment. The District Court granted summary judgment for the Park Service, but the Court of Appeals reversed.
Held: The challenged application of the Park Service regulations does not violate the First Amendment. Pp. 468 U. S. 293-299.
(a) Assuming that overnight sleeping in connection with the demonstration is expressive conduct protected to some extent by the First Amendment, the regulation forbidding sleeping meets the requirements for a reasonable time, place, or manner restriction of expression, whether oral, written, or symbolized by conduct. The regulation is neutral with regard to the message presented, and leaves open ample alternative methods of communicating the intended message concerning the plight of the homeless. Moreover, the regulation narrowly focuses on the Government's substantial interest in maintaining the parks in the heart of the Capital in an attractive and intact condition, readily available to the millions of people who wish to see and enjoy them by their presence. To permit camping would be totally inimical to these purposes. The validity of the regulation need not be judged solely by reference to the demonstration at hand, and none of its provisions are unrelated to the ends that it was designed to serve. Pp. 468 U. S. 293-298.
(b) Similarly, the challenged regulation is also sustainable as meeting the standards for a valid regulation of expressive conduct. Aside from
its impact on speech, a rule against camping or overnight sleeping in public pars is not beyond the constitutional power of the Government to enforce. And as noted above, there is a substantial Government interest, unrelated to suppression of expression, in conserving park property that is served by the proscription of sleeping. Pp. 468 U. S. 298-299.
227 U.S.App.D.C.19, 703 F.2d 586, reversed.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 468 U. S. 300. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post p. 468 U. S. 301.