The First Amendment of the United States is one of the most important as it prevents Congress from making any laws that can go against the main freedoms of U.S citizens including our freedom of speech, religion, right to assembly, or to petition against the government. When such freedoms are prohibited a decision of constitutionality will be made in court. The laws will either be determined as content-neutral or content–based and have to pass the test of strict scrutiny and or the test of intermediate scrutiny depending on the nature of the case. The constitutionality of the statements provided by councilman Prejean and councilwoman Gautreaux differ on the basis that one would be a content-neutral and the other would be content-based.
In the statement provided by councilman Prejean regarding the CALM’s “Bowl on the Bayou”, restrictions were placed on what type of protest could occur and what was being said during the protest, making it content-based. Also, the protest could not take place at all during certain hours. By completely stopping the protest the first amendment rights of the citizens of Justice are being violated. In contrast, the statement provided by councilwoman Gautreaux placed no restrictions on what type of protest could occur. The statement only placed restrictions on the type of speaker that could be used in the protest during certain hours of the week. I believe that the statement provided by councilwoman Gautreaux would be ruled constitutional if challenged and that the statement provided by councilman Prejean would be ruled unconstitutional due to its content-based restrictions.
The draft provided by councilman Prejean places more restrictions on the protestors than I believe deems necessary. The issue in this case was not the type of protest that was occurring, but instead the noise level. Since Prejean wants to completely stop the protest from the hours of 8 P.M and 8 A.M on weekdays and between 11 P.M and 11 A.M on weekends the first amendment rights of these protestors would be completely taken. Since the first amendment prohibits Congress from making a law that will prevent the freedom of speech or assembly, this will not pass if held in court.
The draft specifically states that there shall be no demonstration of protest regarding political or controversial issues. This doesn’t pass the strict scrutiny test because completely stopping the protest is unnecessary and does not use the least restrictive means necessary to advance a government interest. If the statement were amended to allow protest to with the least restrictive means and be more associated with the noise level it may pass the strict scrutiny test. The statement can be amended to be more constitutional if the protest were still allowed to occur and if the statement doesn’t discriminate the type of protest that occurs. In the alternative statement provided by councilwoman Gautreaux the limits are minimum and do not prohibit the protesting but instead put a limit on the noise level, which caused the complaints. Since the statement is narrowly tailored and only prohibits the type of amplifier it will likely be ruled constitutional.
The statement is content- neutral so it will have to pass the test of intermediate scrutiny. The draft provided can pass the test because it will advance an important government interest. It is also narrowly tailored since it uses the least restrictive means and only targets the type of amplifier and noise level of the protest. Also, the amplifiers are only necessary during certain hours of the day when the complaints have been reported.
Since the demonstrations of CALM have never become violent or caused a crowd control issue, there is no reason to prohibit anything besides the noise level. In the similar court case of Ward v. Rock Against Racism it was established that a content-neutral law must coincide with government interests by being narrowly tailored. The restrictions in Gautreaux’s draft are narrowly tailored enough to present a solution to the issue while also allowing the protestors to exercise their right of free speech. If I were to amend one thing in Gautreaux’s draft I would have the hours shortened due to the complaints that stated the protest occurred in the early morning hours.