First Amendment Rights Sample Exam Question
(Suggested time: 60 minutes) (50 out of 150 total exam points)

    Each year the City of Springdale hosts a New Year's Day Celebration. The Celebration takes place on the Great Mall in Grandview Park. Grandview Park is a large recreational park owned and operated by the City and the Great Mall is a long green open space in the center of the Park which is surrounded on all four sides by a paved path for pedestrians to use.  

    The New Year's Day Celebration consists of entertainers hired by the City such as magicians, jugglers and musicians, rides around the Great Mall in horse-drawn carriages and food booths operated by Park employees that sell hot chocolate, donuts and other snacks. In addition, community groups that wish to participate in the celebration may apply to the City of Springdale Parks Department to rent a booth for a nominal fee. From their booth, community groups are permitted to hand out literature about the group's activities and, in addition, they are required to sponsor at least one activity that will add to the festive nature of the day. The application for a booth requires that applicants state how their group's use of the booth will help city residents start the New Year with a light heart.

    Typically, community groups that have participated in the New Year's Day Celebration have given free toys and balloons to children or sponsored activities such as face-painting, carnival-type games or craft activities. Over the years, the applications of several groups have been turned down including an anti-capital punishment group that wanted to distribute miniature electric chairs, and a white supremacist organization that wanted to paint swastikas on the arms of people who attended the Celebration.

    This year the Springdale Parks Department received an application for a booth from the local chapter of WHOA (Welfare of Horses Organization of America), a group objecting to the inhumane treatment of horses. The group objects to the condition of the stables located within Grandview Park and the use of horses to pull carriages during the New Year's Day Celebration. The group's application states that it wishes to rent a booth to hand out WHOA literature and to give away temporary tattoos that depict a wounded horse in a jail cell with the caption "WHOA." The tattoos wear away in several days or can be removed with rubbing alcohol.

    The Springdale Parks Department has rejected the application of WHOA for a booth. In its letter explaining its decision, the Parks Department stated that the group will not contribute to the festive character of the Celebration and will not help the residents of Springdale begin the New Year with a light heart.

    The local chapter of WHOA has filed a lawsuit claiming that the Parks Department's rejection of its application violates its rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. You are a law clerk to the judge assigned to the case. The judge has asked you to write an analysis of the First Amendment arguments available to WHOA in arguing that the Parks Department's rejection of its application violated its rights under the First Amendment as well as the arguments available to the Parks Department in arguing that its decision to reject WHOA's application does not violate the First Amendment.