Please read the following case scenario below. You will be using these facts to answer questions below. At 10:00 am on May 11th, 2013, First Lieutenant (LT) Susan Smith and Captain (CPT) Pamela Boyd, were married in the King County Courthouse in Seattle, Washington. On November 6, 2012, Washington became the tenth jurisdiction in the United States for same-sex couples to legally marry. LT Smith and CPT Boyd were, at the time, both stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McCord.
In attendance at the wedding in the Courthouse were LT Smith’s mother and sister, CPT Boyd’s father, step-mother, and step-brother and Colonel (COL) Lopez and Captain (CPT) Henderson, friends of the couple. The ceremony ended at 10:30 am and the group walked out Courthouse using the Jefferson Street exit.
That morning members of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) were gathered in City Hall Park, a small urban park owned by the City of Seattle. City Hall Park is located across the street from the King County Courthouse on Jefferson Street. The purpose of this gathering was to protest against the marriage of Smith and Boyd.
In accordance with City of Seattle Ordinances, the NOM group obtained the proper Special Event Permit to hold a gathering/ demonstration in a City Park and they obeyed police instructions. Seventy five people were demonstrating by holding up signs and using megaphones to state their message. The signs and verbal messages over the megaphone included “God’s Marriage, One Man + One Woman”, “Gay marriage is evil”, “America is Doomed”, “Lesbians will go to hell”, “Military Dykes Die!”
It wasn’t until Smith and Boyd exited the Courthouse with their friends and family, they saw the signs and heard the messages of the demonstrators across the street in City Hall Park. The demonstrators did not engage in direct conversation with any person from the wedding party, including CPT Boyd and LT Smith.
COL Lopez and CPT Henderson were so upset and angry by these messages that they ran across the street and started beating the demonstrators. Initially they could not be controlled by the police and continued to beat on two of the demonstrators for a period of approximately five minutes resulting in the death of one protestor and serious bodily injury to another. The police arrested many of the protesters for breach of peace and they arrested Lopez and Henderson for assault, battery and murder.
Please answer the following questions:
1. According to the Supreme Court case law, does the fighting words doctrine apply in this case? Why or why not?
2. Is the speech of NOM protected speech under the First Amendment? Why or why not? What case law would you rely upon?
3. If your last name begins with A – M, represent CPT Boyd and LT Smith, how will you argue that the First Amendment did not protect NOM’s speech? What re-course does CAPT Boyd and LT Smith have in the court of law?
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