Weakening the Public Forum
This chapter discusses government properties, which First Amendment law calls “public forums,” that offer underfunded speakers opportunities to reach audiences. The Roberts Court has limited those opportunities by holding in two cases that the government may commandeer certain speech in public forums to express its own ideas or values and by holding in a third case that public universities may bar university-sponsored student groups from limiting their membership on moral grounds. A fourth Roberts Court public forum decision holds, in much more speech-protective fashion, that a state “buffer zone” that barred speech around abortion clinics restricted more speech than necessary to achieve the government’s permissible objectives. That decision, however, may limit its value for future speakers by emphasizing the distinctive character of the antiabortion “counsellors” who won the case.
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