The First Amendment of the UnitedStates is one of the most important as it prevents Congress from making anylaws that can go against the main freedoms of U.S citizens including ourfreedom of speech, religion, right to assembly, or to petition against thegovernment. When such freedoms are prohibited a decision of constitutionalitywill be made in court.
The laws will either be determined as content-neutral orcontent–based and have to pass the test of strict scrutiny and or the test ofintermediate scrutiny depending on the nature of the case. The constitutionality of thestatements provided by councilman Prejean and councilwoman Gautreaux differ onthe basis that one would be a content-neutral and the other would be content-based.In the statement provided by councilman Prejean regarding the CALM’s “Bowl onthe Bayou”, restrictions were placed on what type of protest could occur andwhat was being said during the protest, making it content-based. Also, theprotest could not take place at all during certain hours. By completelystopping the protest the first amendment rights of the citizens of Justice arebeing violated. In contrast, the statement provided by councilwoman Gautreauxplaced no restrictions on what type of protest could occur. The statement only placedrestrictions on the type of speaker that could be used in the protest duringcertain hours of the week. I believe that the statement provided by councilwomanGautreaux would be ruled constitutional if challenged and that the statementprovided by councilman Prejean would be ruled unconstitutional due to itscontent-based restrictions.
The draft provided by councilmanPrejean places more restrictions on the protestors than I believe deemsnecessary. The issue in this case was not the type of protest that wasoccurring, but instead the noise level. Since Prejean wants to completely stopthe protest from the hours of 8 P.M and 8 A.
M on weekdays and between 11 P.Mand 11 A.M on weekends the first amendment rights of these protestors would becompletely taken. Since the first amendment prohibits Congress from making alaw that will prevent the freedom of speech or assembly, this will not pass ifheld in court. The draft specifically states that there shall be nodemonstration of protest regarding political or controversial issues. This doesn’tpass the strict scrutiny test because completely stopping the protest isunnecessary and does not use the least restrictive means necessary to advance agovernment interest. If the statementwere amended to allow protest to with the least restrictive means and be moreassociated with the noise level it may pass the strict scrutiny test.
Thestatement can be amended to be more constitutional if the protest were stillallowed to occur and if the statement doesn’t discriminate the type of protestthat occurs. In the alternative statementprovided by councilwoman Gautreaux the limits are minimum and do not prohibitthe protesting but instead put a limit on the noise level, which caused thecomplaints. Since the statement is narrowly tailored and only prohibits thetype of amplifier it will likely be ruled constitutional.
The statement iscontent- neutral so it will have to pass the test of intermediate scrutiny. Thedraft provided can pass the test because it will advance an importantgovernment interest. It is also narrowly tailored since it uses the leastrestrictive means and only targets the type of amplifier and noise level of theprotest. Also, the amplifiers are only necessary during certain hours of theday when the complaints have been reported.
Since the demonstrations of CALMhave never become violent or caused a crowd control issue, there is no reasonto prohibit anything besides the noise level. In the similar court case of Wardv. Rock Against Racism it was established that a content-neutral law mustcoincide with government interests by being narrowly tailored. The restrictionsin Gautreaux’s draft are narrowly tailored enough to present a solution to theissue while also allowing the protestors to exercise their right of freespeech. If I were to amend one thing in Gautreaux’s draft I would have thehours shortened due to the complaints that stated the protest occurred in theearly morning hours.