"Good Trouble": First Amendment Protections of Political Protest in Public Forums



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Political protest has had a longstanding history within the United States, predating the country’s formation. The First Amendment’s ratification in 1791 was integral to the modernization of political protest, specifically the freedom of speech and assembly clauses. However, with the evolution of the fledgling nation came a decreased tolerance for the disorder, often associated with protests. After the change in the public’s regard for protests, restrictions on political protests, such as permit requirements, were widely introduced, narrowing the permissibility of certain aspects of political protest. Likewise, protest’s forum and content restrictions are subject to differing levels of scrutiny and permissible restrictions. Recently, political protests have been brought to the forefront of the public’s attention, yet there is a significant lack of literature on the legality of political protests and the role of criminal justice actors in enforcing protest protections. The purpose of this thesis is to provide an in-depth, legal discussion of political protest in public forums, specifying the legal parameters of protected political protest. This thesis will utilize an inductive, doctrinal methodology to examine the legal precedent established by the United States Supreme Court and the modern interpretations and application of this precedent by the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Specifically, the themes of protests and protest restrictions will be examined in-depth.



Sociology, Criminology and Penology