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