United States v. Grace

PETITIONER:United States
LOCATION:Kansas State Legislature

DOCKET NO.: 81-1863
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 461 US 171 (1983)
ARGUED: Jan 18, 1983
DECIDED: Apr 20, 1983

Rex E. Lee – on behalf of the Appellants
Sebastian K.D. Graber – on behalf of the Appellees

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Grace

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 18, 1983 in United States v. Grace

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 20, 1983 in United States v. Grace

Byron R. White:

The third case is United States against Grace which is here from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

This case began when the two appellees appeared on the public sidewalk in front of this building, one carrying a picket sign and the other distributing leaflets.

They were then threatened with the rest of the authority being a federal statute which forbids the kind of conduct that appellees were engaged in anywhere on the Supreme Court grounds which are expressly defined as including the public sidewalks surrounding the building.

The appellees brought suit in the United States District Court attacking the constitutionality of the statute.

The District Court dismissed the case for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, but the Court of Appeals reversed and held that the statute was invalid on its face as an infringement on First Amendment rights.

We noted probable jurisdiction and we affirmed, but on the narrower ground that — that the statute is invalid under the First Amendment as applied to a conduct occurring on the public sidewalks which historically and traditionally are public forums for expressive activity.

Otherwise, the judgment is vacated.

Justice Marshall and Justice Stevens have each filed opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part.