Ward v. Rock Against Racism

Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781 (1989), was a United States Supreme Court case.

Ward v. Rock Against Racism
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued February 27, 1989
Decided June 22, 1989
Full case nameBenjamin R. Ward, et al. v. Rock Against Racism
Citations491 U.S. 781 (more)
109 S. Ct. 2746; 105 L. Ed. 2d 661; 1989 U.S. LEXIS 3129; 57 U.S.L.W. 4879
Case history
PriorCertiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Holding
A regulation of the time, place, or manner of protected speech must be narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate content-neutral interests but does not need to be the least restrictive or the least-intrusive means of doing so.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
Case opinions
MajorityKennedy, joined by Rehnquist, White, O'Connor, Scalia
ConcurrenceBlackmun
DissentMarshall, joined by Brennan, Stevens

In an opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Court rejected a First Amendment challenge to a New York City regulation that mandated the use of city-provided sound systems and technicians to control the volume of concerts in New York City's Central Park. The Court found that the city had a substantial interest in limiting excessive noise and the regulation was "content neutral." The court found that "narrow tailoring" would be satisfied if the regulation promoted a substantial government interest that would be achieved less effectively without the regulation.

Justices Marshall, Brennan, and Stevens dissented.

In his dissent, Marshall agreed with the majority that the government has a substantial interest in controlling noise but believed that it may not advance that interest by actually asserting control over the amplification equipment and thus over private expression itself. The government has an obligation to adopt the least intrusive restriction necessary to achieve its goals such as enforcing the noise ordinance that has already been adopted.

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