OCTOBER TERM, 1994
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit
No. 94-780. Argued April 26, 1995—Decided June 29, 1995
Ohio law makes Capitol Square, the statehouse plaza in Columbus, a forum for discussion of public questions and for public activities, and gives petitioner Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (Board) responsibility for regulating access to the square. To use the square, a group must simply fill out an official application form and meet several speech-neutral criteria. After the Board denied, on Establishment Clause grounds, the application of respondent Ku Klux Klan to place an unattended cross on the square during the 1993 Christmas season, the Klan filed this suit. The District Court entered an injunction requiring issuance of the requested permit, and the Board permitted the Klan to erect its cross. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the judgment, adding to a conflict among the Courts of Appeals as to whether a private, unattended display of a religious symbol in a public forum violates the Establishment Clause.
Held: The judgment is affirmed. 30 F. 3d 675, affirmed. Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III, concluding that: 1. Because the courts below addressed only the Establishment Clause issue and that is the sole question upon which certiorari was granted, this Court will not consider respondents' contention that the State's disapproval of the Klan's political views, rather than its desire to distance itself from sectarian religion, was the genuine reason for disallowing the cross display. Pp. 759-760. 2. The display was private religious speech that is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression. See, e. g., Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School Dist., 508 U. S. 384. Because Capitol Square is a traditional public forum, the Board may regulate the content of the Klan's expression there only if such a restriction is necessary, and narrowly drawn, to serve a compelling state interest. Perry Ed. Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U. S. 37, 45. Pp. 760-761. 3. Compliance with the Establishment Clause may be a state interest sufficiently compelling to justify content-based restrictions on speech,
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