Public Communication 1
A public forum is open to all expression that is safeguarded under the First Amendment. Parks, sidewalks, and streets are perceived open to public debate by tradition and are designated as conventional public forums. Notably, the aforementioned public fora have always been considered so because historically, they have been dedicated to debate and assembly. As such, it has been plainly established that in these public fora, the government’s ability to limit speech is very limited. For the First Amendment, the government, in committing public forums for expressive reasons, may take reasonable restrictions on who may utilize it (Krotoszynski, 2019). The Supreme Court, therefore, defines a limited public forum as a forum that the government sets aside for expressive activities. Like conventional public forums, content-based speech limitations in an assigned public forum are subject to stringent scrutiny.
For a long time, subways have been perceived as limited public fora or public fora based on public access and different uses. However, it is important to note that this does not mean that limitations on public discourse in subway platforms are doomed from the onset. If a substantial government interest such as hazardous crowding on subways is demonstrated, limitation on the number of people who are allowed to speak or even a complete ban may be upheld. In the evaluation of ISKCON v. Lee, it is evident that it is possible to make a sturdy argument that, subways, or at a minimum, subway platforms or corridors-are mainly for the movement of people, and as such, their intention is not to serve as conventional public fora (Barron, 2006). The regulations need to have neutral content, closely tailored, and demonstrate a substantial government interest. Also, reviewing the Young v. N.Y. Transit Authority case reveals that a regulation that safeguards passengers from extortion, aggravation, unwanted touching, and threats was sustained. The decision pertaining to Young’s case was supported by far-reaching factual scrutiny, encompassing interviews. It helped to verify that because of the congestion and the narrow corridors, begging in the subway platform was perceived as a hostile activity that served to intimidate passengers.
In light of this assessment of the use of subway platforms for public discourse, I recommend that the court affirms the city council’s denial. According to the city council, holding the rally at the subway may offend the passengers, interfere with the traffic, and even pose a fire hazard. I find the city council’s reasons to be justified. As stated earlier, the government can ban meetings on subways if they are considered hazardous; in this case, the risk of a fire hazard is posed. In reference to the ISKCON v. Lee case, it can be said that subways should be left to carry on their main purpose for which they were created-to facilitate the movement of people. Notably, passengers may perceive the rally on the platform as hostile, as evidenced in the Young v. N.Y. Transit Authority case. I believe that the Freedonia Federation to Free the Falcon organization has a variety of options to choose from to hold their rally aside from the subway. As such, they can select a venue on one of the many public platforms available; after all, the government can hardly put restrictions on these platforms.
Barron, J. A. (2006). Constitutional law: Principles and policy, cases and materials. LexisNexis/Matthew Bender.
Krotoszynski, R. J. (2019). The disappearing First Amendment. Cambridge University Press.
Nielsen, L. B. (2009). License to harass: Law, hierarchy, and offensive public speech. Princeton University Press.