Thomas v. Chicago Park District
Public Citizen filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case concerning a Chicago Park District ordinance requiring that anyone seeking to use amplified sound or to hold a rally involving fifty or more people in a Chicago city park must first obtain a permit. The brief argued that the ordinance imposed a prior restraint on speech that must be accompanied by the procedural safeguards imposed in Freedman v. Maryland. These safeguards are particularly important in contexts that do not involve a limited public resource (e.g., a city park)—such as licensing schemes that require charitable organizations to register and obtain a permit before they may solicit contributions from residents in a particular locality—because of the significant opportunities for official abuse, delay, and censorship based on the content of speech.
The Court held that a content-neutral permit scheme regulating uses (including speech uses) of a public forum need not contain the procedural safeguards described in Freedman v. Maryland.