Frisby v. Schultz

487 U.S. 474, 108 S. Ct. 2495 (1988)



A statute is narrowly tailored if it targets and eliminates no more than the exact source of the "evil" it seeks to remedy. A complete ban can be narrowly tailored, but only if each activity within the proscription's scope is an appropriately targeted evil.


Appellees were strongly opposed to abortion and expressed their views by picketing on a public street outside the residence of a doctor who performed abortions. The town board enacted an antipicketing ordinance that made it unlawful to engage in picketing before or about any individual's residence in the town. Appellees filed an action for injunctive relief, which the trial court granted. The court found that the ordinance was not narrowly tailored enough to restrict protected speech in a public forum, which the appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court granted appellants' petition for certiorari to determine whether the ordinance was constitutional, as appellants asserted. 


Is the ordinance invalid under the First Amendment?




As is evidenced by its text, the ordinance serves the significant government interest of protecting residential privacy. An important aspect of such privacy is the protection of unwilling listeners within their homes from the intrusion of objectionable or unwanted speech. Moreover, the ordinance is narrowly tailored to serve that governmental interest, since, although its ban is complete, it targets and eliminates no more than the exact source of the "evil" it seeks to remedy: offensive and disturbing picketing focused on a "captive" home audience. It does not prohibit more generally directed means of public communication that may not be completely banned in residential areas. 

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