Capitol Square Review and Advisory Bd. v. Pinette (1995)515 U.S. 753 | Rehnquist Court

Resources » Capitol Square Review and Advisory Bd. v. Pinette (1995)


The Court considered whether the Advisory Board of Columbus, Ohio, violated the free speech rights of the Ku Klux Klan when it used the Establishment Clause to deny them permission to erect an unattended cross on Capitol Square (the state-house square) during the Christmas season. Under Ohio law, Capitol Square is a forum for discussion of public questions and for public activities, and so is a space that is open to all on equal terms. In a 7-2 decision, the Court held that the denial of permission did violate the Ku Klux Klan’s free speech rights. In the opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the display of the cross “was private religious speech that is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression” and that, because Capitol Square is a traditional public forum, “the Board could regulate the content of the Klan’s expression there only if such a restriction is necessary, and narrowly drawn, to serve a compelling state interest.”

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Transcript hosted by Justia’s Supreme Court site, originally from U.S Reports, Volume 515.