Even regulations that do not foreclose an entire medium of expression, but merely shift the time, place, or manner of its use, must leave open ample alternative channels for communication.
Respondent, a city resident, filed an action against petitioners alleging that the city's sign ordinance violated her First Amendment (U.S Const. amend. I) right of free speech. The ordinance prohibited homeowners from displaying any signs on their property except residence identification signs, for sale signs, and signs warning of safety hazards. However, the ordinance permitted commercial establishments, churches, and nonprofit organizations to erect certain signs that were not allowed at residences. The court ruled in favor of responent declaring the ordinance to be unconstitutional. On writ of certiorari, the court affirmed.
Did the ordinance that prohibited most signs from residences while allowing most signs at commercial properties violate the free speech clause of Federal Constitution's First Amendment?
The court held that it was not persuaded that adequate substitutes existed for the important medium of speech that the city ordinance closed off. The court determined that the government's need to temperate speech from the home was much less pressing than its need to mediate among various competing uses for public streets and facilities.