SW Legal Educational Publishing

First Amendment Does Not Allow Stooges in the Courthouse
Description Appeals court upheld lower court decision that federal courthouse could bar placement of satirical statue. Courthouse keepers may impose time, place and manner restrictions on what appears within the courthouses without imposing viewpoint discrimination.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words First Amendment, Art Display, Restrictions, Viewpoint Discrimination
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Sefick placed various satirical sculptures of his in state and federal buildings around Chicago. The government refused to allow him to display a sculpture in a federal courthouse in Chicago. Sefick sued, contending the refusal to display his sculpture, which ridiculed a federal judge, was 'viewpoint discrimination'." Trial court held for government; Sefick appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The denial was rational, as there was construction going on in the building and on-going safety revisions due to the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. Furthermore, "nothing in the first amendment prevents the government from allowing sedate and decorous exhibits ... while excluding the comic, the caustic, and the acerbic. ... The judiciary does not show reruns of the Three Stooges in courthouse lobbies.... A preference for the somber over the sardonic within a courthouse is not viewpoint or even subject-matter discrimination. It is a standard time, place, and manner limitation."
Citation Sefick v. Gardner, - F.3d - (1998 WL 901535, 7th Cir.)
164 F. 3d 370 (7th Cir., 1998)

Back to Constitutional Law Listings

©1997-2000  South-Western, a division of Cengage Learning, Inc. Cengage Learning is a trademark used herein under license.