Here’s one more brief that the UCLA First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic has filed in the last few weeks; its argument is that the “profane discourse” law is content-based, which would make it unconstitutional. This one is on behalf of the Thomas More Society, in SNAP v. Joyce (8th Cir.) (the link is to the decision that is being appealed). My students Tess Curet, Nathan Davis, and Michael Smith worked on the brief. I quote the brief below, for those who want to read it on the blog, though you can also find a PDF here. The plaintiffs, whose position we are supporting, are represented by the ACLU of Missouri.
Please note that, in all Clinic cases, the students and I act as advocates for the clients. We are making the best arguments we can for the position we are taking; we are not necessarily endorsing it as the position that we think the law ought to take. (Sometimes you can tell from past posts of mine that I do personally agree with that position, but you should not draw such an inference simply from the filing of the brief.) I should also note that the amicus briefs are designed to be read alongside the parties’ briefs, so they naturally omit much of the factual and procedural background that the parties’ briefs make clear; my apologies if, as a result, some of the material is therefore opaque to other readers.
Missouri Revised Statutes § 574.035 (the Missouri House of Worship Protection Act), in relevant part, criminalizes behavior that
- “[i]ntentionally and unreasonably disturbs … or disquiets” a house of worship
- through “profane discourse [and] rude or indecent behavior”
- “so near [the house of worship] as to disturb the order and solemnity of the