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Ward v. Rock Against Racism

United States Supreme Court
491 U.S. 781 (1989)



An amphitheater and stage structure existed in Central Park known as the Naumberg Acoustic Bandshell. In close proximity to the bandshell was Sheep Meadow, a grassy open area. New York City designated Sheep Meadow as a quiet area for private recreation, including walking and reading. The bandshell was also close to the apartments and residences of Central Park West. Sheep Meadow users issued complaints to the city about excessive noise from the bandshell during concerts. As part of its attempt to regulate the volume of amplified music at the bandshell, New York City required bandshell performers to use sound-amplification equipment and a sound technician provided by the city. Rock Against Racism (RAR) (plaintiff) was a sponsor of rock concerts at the bandshell. RAR challenged the guidelines against Ward (defendant), a New York City official, in federal district court on the grounds that the sound equipment and technician requirements violated the First Amendment. The district court upheld the guidelines as reasonable time, place, and manner regulations. The court of appeals reversed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Dissent (Marshall, J.)

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