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CRM 123: Case Law: American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee V City of Dearborn

American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee V City of Dearborn

What is the First Amendment?

You can locate the case in Westlaw; you can also find a lot of information about the case on pages 18-23, with a case analysis, including a sample brief, provided by the author on pages 24-28.

The Opinion


LAY, Circuit Judge.

Imad Chammout and the American–Arab Anti–Discrimination Committee (AAC) challenged the constitutionality of a municipal ordinance that regulates parades on the city streets and sidewalks of Dearborn, Michigan. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the city of Dearborn, finding that the Dearborn ordinance did not violate the First Amendment. We reverse.

The Holdings

Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Lay, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) thirty-day notice requirement of ordinance was not narrowly tailored;
(2) application of ordinance to small group speech was overbroad and not narrowly tailored;
(3) ordinance's imposition of strict liability on participants in permitless march infringed on protected First Amendment activity; and
(4) proposed narrowing construction of ordinance was unacceptable as it led to vagueness problems that presented threat of content-based discrimination.



VI. Conclusion

The city of Dearborn's Ordinance suffers from a number of constitutional infirmities. A more carefully crafted ordinance that strikes the proper balance between the city's significant interests and the exercise of First Amendment freedoms is needed. The record demonstrates that in practice, the city of Dearborn rarely denies a waiver of the thirty-day notice requirement, and often accommodates spontaneous demonstrations for a variety of causes. A closer correspondence between the Ordinance and the city of Dearborn's tendencies and capabilities is appropriate.


Although we affirm the district court's ruling that Section 2 and Section 6 of the Ordinance are not void for vagueness, we reverse the ruling of the district court in all other respects because (1) The thirty-day notice provision of the Ordinance is not narrowly tailored; (2) The application of Section 2 of the Ordinance to small group speech is both overbroad and not *615 narrowly tailored; and (3) Section 7 of the Ordinance unconstitutionally infringes upon protected First Amendment activity by imposing strict liability. We also reverse the district court's acceptance of the city of Dearborn's narrowing construction because it leads to more severe vagueness problems than the Ordinance without the narrowing construction, presenting a real threat of content-based discrimination.


Think About it

Based on the questions and your readings, think about how you would summarize (brief) this case.

  1. Who were the plaintiffs?
  2. Who was (or were) the defendent(s)?
  3. How would you locate this case in Westlaw or Lexis Nexis?

TIP! Read Twice. On the SECOND reading, highlight or take notes.

Pre-read a case without highlighting anything!

"This can be tough because as you pre-read you get a sense of what is important and naturally want to note it. However, you can never really know what is important until you read an entire case.

By not highlighting anything on your first pass, you also save time in the long run when you outline. When you outline, you return to a case a few weeks after you first read it. With unnecessary highlighting, you end up spending a lot of time re-reading to find out what is relevant in a given case.

On your second pass through the case, identify the relevant sections and highlight the issue(s), rule(s), facts, analysis, policy, procedural history and other elements. Identify the elements with a notation in the margin. Some students use different colored highlighters to identify different elements. One color is used for the rule, another for the issue, and so on. This usually works well only for highly visual people. For myself, I find that different colors slow you down and only add to the confusion of too much highlighting.

As in all things, if it works for you and adds to your productivity and efficiency, then do it. Otherwise, eliminating the clutter will speed you along your way" -Law Nerds, 2012


Case Questions

  1. What claims were made by the ACC in its complaint about the Dearborn Ordinance?
  2. From what [court] decision did the ACC appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit?
  3. What were the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit's conclusions?
  4. What explanation did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit give for its conclusions?

(from Schubert, Intor to Law, p. 23)

  1. Include the Citation
  2. Name the key facts about this case.
  3. Name the Issues, or Questions of Law.
  4. Examine the Holding (Rule of Law) that the Court applied to the facts of the case.
  5. Does this case have a previous history?
  6. The Rationale is an explanation of how the Court ruled.