Protests Outside People’s Homes (Residential Picketing) and the First Amendment
This matter is in the news again, because of a proposal in Boston to limit residential picketing so that it can only happen from 9 am to 9 pm. (This appears to have been prompted by residential picketing outside Mayor Michelle Wu’s home.) I therefore thought I’d repost an item of mine that answers the question: Is this sort of targeted residential picketing protected by the First Amendment?
The short answer: No, but any restrictions on such picketing have to be imposed through content-neutral statutes or ordinances (or, in some situations, injunctions); and they have to leave people free to demonstrate in the same neighborhood:
- In Carey v. Brown (1980), the Court struck down a ban on residential picketing that had an exemption for labor picketing.
- In Frisby v. Schultz (1988), the Court upheld a ban (not just a time limitation but a total ban) that had no exemption, on the grounds that it was (a) content-neutral, (b) narrowly tailored to serving an important interest in protecting residential privacy, and (c) left people free to engage in
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