Ward v. Rock Against Racism Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Pock Against Racism (Respondent) is a sponsor of a rock concert who challenges New York City’s restriction on the volume of performances on Central Park.

Facts of the case

New York City, responding to complaints of high-decibel concerts adjoining residential neighborhoods, mandated the use of city-provided sound systems and technicians for concerts in Central Park. Members of rock group claimed that the inability to use their own sound equipment and technicians in a concert in a public forum interfered with their First Amendment rights of expression.


Is the city’s restriction of amplification equipment Constitutionally valid?


Yes. This is a proper time, place, manner restriction that does not discriminate based on content.


The Court held that the New York City’s sound-amplification guideline met the demands of the First Amendment . The Court concluded that the regulation was valid as a reasonable regulation of the place and manner of expression because it was content neutral and narrowly tailored to serve the city’s legitimate public interest in protecting citizens from unwelcome noise.

  • Case Brief: 1989
  • Petitioner: Ward
  • Respondent: Rock Against Racism
  • Decided by: Rehnquist Court

Citation: 491 US 781 (1989)
Argued: Feb 27, 1989
Decided: Jun 22, 1989