Greer v. Spock Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Respondent, Spock was a presidential candidate that wanted to enter a military base and distribute campaign literature.

Facts of the case

Question

Is the regulation of speech on a military base constitutional?

Answer

“Yes. The base is governmental property devoted to the training of soldiers

  • it is not a public forum.”

    Conclusion

    “The Court held that the regulations were not constitutionally invalid on their face. The Court opined that since under the Constitution it is the basic function of the military installation like Fort Dix to train soldiers, not to provide a public forum, and since, as a necessary concomitant to this basic function, a commanding officer has the historically unquestioned power to exclude civilians from the area of his command, any notion that federal military installations, like municipal streets and parks, have traditionally served as a place for free public assembly and communication of thoughts by private citizens was false, and therefore respondents had no generalized constitutional right to make political speeches or distribute leaflets at Fort Dix. The Court further ruled that the regulations were not unconstitutionally applied under the circumstances of this case. As to the regulation banning political speeches and demonstrations, the Court averred that there was no claim that the military authorities discriminated in any way among candidates based upon the candidates’ supposed political views

  • on the contrary it appears that Fort Dix has a policy, objectively and evenhandedly applied, of keeping official military activities there wholly free of entanglement with any partisan political campaigns, a policy that the post was constitutionally free to pursue. As to the regulation governing the distribution of literature, a military commander may disapprove only those publications that he perceives clearly endanger the loyalty, discipline, or morale of troops on the base under his command, and, while this regulation might in the future be applied irrationally, invidiously, or arbitrarily, none of the respondents even submitted any material for review, and the non-candidate respondents had been excluded from the post because they had previously distributed literature there without attempting to obtain approval.”
    • Case Brief: 1976
    • Petitioner: Greer
    • Respondent: Spock
    • Decided by: Burger Court

    Citation: 424 US 828 (1976)
    Argued: Nov 5, 1975
    Decided: Mar 24, 1976