SCT 82-1998 Concurring Opinion
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
WILLLAM P. CLARK,
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, ET AL.,
COMMUNITY FOR CREATIVE NON-VIOLENCE
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO
THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
[June 29, 1984]
CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER, concurring.
I concur fully in the Court's opinion.
I find it difficult to conceive of what "camping" means, if it does not include pitching a tent and building a fire. Whether sleeping or cooking follows is irrelevant. With all its frailties, the English language, as used in this country for several centuries, and as used in the Park Service regulations, could hardly be plainer in informing the public that camping in Lafayette Park was prohibited.
The actions here claimed as speech entitled to the protections of the First Amendment simply are not speech; rather, they constitute conduct. As Justice Black, who was never tolerant of limits on speech, emphatically pointed out in his separate opinion in Coz v. Louisiana, 379 U. S. 536, 578 (1965):
Respondents' attempt at camping In the park is a form of "picketing"; it is conduct, not speech. Moreover, it is conduct that interferes with the rights of others to use Lafayette Park for the purposes for which it was created. Lafayette Park and others like it are for all the people, and their rights are not to be trespassed even by those who have some "statement" to make. Tents, fires, and sleepers, real or feigned, interfere with the rights of others to use our parks. Of course, the Constitution guarantees the people may make their "statements," but Washington has countiess places for that kind of "statement" these respondents sought to make.
It trivializes the First Amendment to seek to use it as a shield in the manner asserted here. and it tells us something about why many people must wait for their "day in court" when the time of the courts is preempted by frivolous proceedings that delay the causes of litigants who have legitimate, nonfrivolous claims. This case alone has engaged the time of one District Judge, an en banc court of eleven Court of Appeals Judges, and nine Justices of this Court.
"The First and Fourteenth Amendments, I think, take away from govemment, state and federal, all power to restrict freedom of speech, press, and assembIy where people have a right to be for such purposes. . . . Picketing, though it may be utilized to communicate ideas, is not speech, and therefore is not of itself protected by the First Amendment." (Emphasis in original; citations omitted).
SCT 82-1998 Intro
Case Listing --- Proposition One ---- Peace Park