Boos v. Barry

Supreme Court of the United States

485 U.S. 312 (1988)

A government regulation that restricts speech critical of foreign governments in front of their embassies is a content-based restriction of free speech and is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Relevant Facts

A District of Columbia law prohibited the displaying of any sign within 500 feet of a foreign embassy if that sign tended to bring that foreign government into public odium or disrepute. Boos and two other individuals (the plaintiffs) wished to carry signs that criticized the Soviet Union and Nicaragua on the public sidewalks within 500 feet of their respective embassies. They brought suit in district court against Barry, the Mayor of the District of Columbia (the defendant), challenging the law as an unconstitutional restriction on their First Amendment freedoms. The district court granted the mayor’s motion for summary judgment. The court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 3, 2020

Judicial Opinion

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Procedural History

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Citations

485 U.S. 312 (1988)