1948 July 22

NYC Seeking New Rules to Govern Use of Sound Trucks, Loudspeakers


The legal department of the New York City Police Department, it was announced on this day, is seeking to draft a new set of rules to govern the use of sound trucks and loud speakers in public meetings. The move was in response to the Supreme Court decision in which Justice William O. Douglas held that leaving the right to hold a public meeting to the discretion of the police or the payment of a fine could interfere with the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and assembly.

Police officials have expressed fear of having the streets “inundated” with sound trucks and loud speakers.

Hanging over the  controversy was a test case in which Bernard Walpin, a teacher at Hunter College, deliberately spoke for an hour an a half without having obtained a police permit. During his remarks, Walpin read from Justice Douglas’ opinion several times. His case was being supported by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The Supreme Court case was Saia v. New York (June 7, 1948), involving a local ordinance that gave the police chief unfettered discretion to issue permits for the use of sound amplification devices in public places. Justice Douglas wrote that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it “establishes a previous restraint on the right of free speech in violation of the First Amendment which is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment against State action. To use a loudspeaker or amplifier, one has to get a permit from the Chief of Police. There are no standards prescribed for the exercise of his discretion.”

Learn more about free speech: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/category/speech



Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!