Advocacy of all sorts of repellent activities, including criminal violence, is speech protected by the First Amendment. To cross the line, the speech must create a clear and present danger of imminent lawless action. To do that, it must be both designed to cause such imminent lawless action and likely to cause it. The Supreme Court established those rules several decades ago in Brandenburg v. Ohio.If someone wants to advocate sacrificing infants - I'm not sure what the penalty is for advocating murder without actually doing it.
You may be thinking of the Court's 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which was a First Amendment Free Exercise case authored by Justice Scalia. It raised a lot of eyebrows by radically narrowing the protection of the right to free exercise of religion from the standard the Court had established in the Sherbert and Yoder decisions. Congress meant to restore the previous broader view by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which not long ago was the basis for striking down a HHS regulation on contraceptives in the Hobby Lobby case.I believe Indian tribes who wanted to smoke peyote as part of their religious rituals were not allowed to do so.
The Court wasn't concerned with whether Smith, an Indian in Oregon, had a legal right to use peyote in his religious ceremonies. The issue was whether an Oregon law that denied unemployment benefits to people who had been terminated for using such substances violated Smith's First Amendment right to free exercise. The Court held it did not--and too bad for Smith.
You are talking more there about the freedom of expressive speech. I agree that all sorts of extremely repulsive speech should be protected, as the Court did in upholding the right of members of the Westboro Baptist Chhurch to carry signs denouncing homosexuals near the ceremony in which the grieving parents were burying their son, a U.S. serviceman. (The dead man had not been a homosexual--their beef was with the military's policies regarding homosexuals.) I also agree with the Skokie decision forty years ago that a group of Nazis had the right to march, in full regalia, through a town where many Jews who had survived concentration camps lived.I personally find the pictures that anti-choicers like to wave around repugnant; but legally they are allowed to show them. I also find the videos of ISIS beheading people repugnant, but they are legal to show.
But this thread is about religious displays in the public square, and the Court's decisions on that subject have not always been so accommodating of anti-Christian nuts. The Court has in several decisions recognized the important role of Christianity in this country's history and traditions. And it has not seemed willing to say that any damned thing at all has to be tolerated--see, for example, the Summum case I mentioned.
Last edited by matchlight; 12-29-14 at 07:49 PM.
When a religious belief interferes with my day to day life, I apply the first amendment.
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The space is a "free speeech zone" (which was presumably named as such to sidestep the 1A) As such, any group can set up any display they like. Apparently someone held a confederate flag display there previously. You don't have to be a religious group, so long as you pay the fee.
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