Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
An ordinance which gives an administrative official discretionary power to control in advance the right of citizens to speak on religious matters on the streets of a city is clearly invalid as a prior restraint on the exercise of First Amendment rights.
The police commissioner revoked defendant's one year permit under New York, N.Y., Admin. Code ch. 18, § 435-7.0 to engage in religious speech in a public place because he ridiculed and denounced other religions. The revocation affected defendant's rights to speak in that one year only. His later applications for permits were disapproved, but no reason was given. Subsequently, he was arrested for speaking in a public place without a permit. He was convicted, and his conviction was affirmed on appeal in the state courts. Defendant sought further review of the judgment.
Was the New York, N.Y., Admin. Code ch. 18, § 435-7.0 valid, thereby warranting the conviction of the defendant for speaking in a public place without a permit?
On further review, the Court noted that the lower courts justified the rejection of defendant's permit application on the basis that a permit had previously been revoked for good reasons, but § 435-7.0 did not mention reasons for which an application could be refused. In reversing defendant's conviction, the Court concluded that § 435-7.0 was invalid as a prior restraint on the exercise of First Amendment rights because it allowed the commissioner, who was an administrative official, to use his discretion to control in advance the right of citizens to speak on religious matters on the streets without appropriate standards to guide his action.