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Constitutional Law

Exam 22
30 minutes

Fact Pattern

A is a single mother who recently moved with her two school-aged children to a small town in State Z for a new job. A hoped that the small community would provide a better environment for her children.

This small town, however, is very tight knit. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. One day, A was struggling to navigate through the grocery store with her two young children. While checking out, A became frustrated with the cashier. When the cashier tried to make friendly small talk with A, she told him off for being a slow, lazy cashier and asked that he “hurry it along.”

Unbeknownst to A, her new neighbor, B, is an important member of the community and a dear friend of the cashier. Upon hearing of A’s comment to the cashier, B demand an apology from A multiple times. A repeatedly refuses. 

The relationship between A and B deteriorates completely. B caves to the pressures of the community and decides to take matters into her own hands. B resolves to embarrass A like A embarrassed B’s friend. Right around Halloween, B places some fake tombstones and other Halloween-themed signs in her yard that read:

“Here lies A. She had it comin’.”

“Ding dong, A the Witch will soon be dead! (we hope)”

A is extremely angry at the signage. After many failed attempts to resolve the issue with B over the course of a few weeks, A calls the police. A explains to the officers that the signs made her feel very threatened. The police inform B of this sentiment. Soon after, a shouting match ensues between A and B. A suddenly becomes violent and attempt to kicks B in the shin. Given this outburst, the officers tell B to remove the signs immediately or risk being subject to arrest.

B sues the city for requiring her to remove the signs. B alleges that the officers’ action was an infringement upon her freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment.


Questions

  1. How should the court rule? Explain, focusing solely on the First Amendment issue.

Question 1

How should the court rule? Explain, focusing solely on the First Amendment issue.

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