First Amendment Research Information
Freedom of Assembly
In 1976, the American Nazi Party requested a permit to demonstrate in the strongly Jewish community of Skokie near Chicago.
Town officials opposed the request, with many citizens arguing that the First Amendment should not protect people who preach hate and violence. Others, however, said that the First Amendment must be for everyone, or else it is for no one. After a lengthy court battle, the Nazis won the right to hold their demonstration.
More recently, a law in Chicago allowed police to break up groups of young people on street corners if they believed the gathering was gang-related. The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional.
Freedom of assembly protects the right of people to organize in opposition to government policies or for other lawful purposes.