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Civil Rights; Freedom of speech; vagueness

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//November 21, 2011//

Civil Rights; Freedom of speech; vagueness

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//November 21, 2011//

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Civil Rights
Freedom of speech; vagueness

A municipal senior center’s code prohibiting disorderly conduct is not unconstitutionally vague.

“To the extent that any analogy can be drawn, the Code is akin to statutes prohibiting disruptive noises, see, e.g.,
Grayned, 408 U.S. at 107-14, disorderly conduct, see, e.g., The ordinance at issue in Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 107-08 (1972), provided: ‘[N]o person, while on public or private grounds adjacent to any building in which a school or any class thereof is in session, shall wilfully make or assist in the making of any noise or diversion which disturbs or tends to disturb the peace or good order of such school session or class thereof . . . .’

Ovadal, 416 F.3d at 535-36, disturbing the peace, see, e.g., United States v. Woodard, 376 F.2d 136, 140-42 (7th Cir.
1967), or abusive personal behavior against others, such as ‘aggressive panhandling,’ see Gresham, 225 F.3d at 908-09 (citing cases). All of these laws withstood vagueness challenges. In Grayned, for example, the Supreme Court looked to the ordinance itself and its preamble to conclude that it prohibited, in clear enough terms, ‘deliberately noisy or diversionary activity that disrupts or is about to disrupt normal school activities.’ 408 U.S. at 110-11. Similarly here, the Code prohibits disruptive behavior that interferes with other patrons’ ability to use the Senior Center for its intended purpose. A person of reasonable intelligence would understand this meaning. Gresham, 225 F.3d at 908 (‘Laws must contain a “reasonable degree of clarity” so that people of “common Intelligence” can understand their meaning.’ (quoting Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 629 (1984))). To the extent the Code is subject to vagueness analysis at all, it is not unconstitutionally vague.”


10-1300 Milestone v. City of Monroe

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Crocker, Mag. J., Sykes, J.

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