Tacynec’s string band was not permitted to march in Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. The city had a policy limiting the number of bands that could perform, allegedly for public safety reasons since the parade ended after dark, and it only allowed new bands to perform when old bands did not participate and left open vacancies. Tacynec contended that the city had in fact enacted the policy in order to advance the nongovernmental interest of protecting the traditional string band, discouraging members of established bands from defecting to new, non-traditional bands.
The lower court ruled in favor of Tacynec, finding that the restrictions were not the least restrictive means of addressing the governmental interest in public safety. The appeals court determined that the lower court should have applied the adequate alternative forum test, instead, and sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.
The appeals court instructed the lower court as follows: If the city had enacted the regulations for public safety, the rules should be judged under the time, place, and manner restriction standard. This standard requires that the regulations be content neutral, that they serve a significant government interest, and that there be adequate alternative fora for the speaker or performer to express herself. But, if the city enacted the regulation solely for the purpose of interfering with the band’s freedom of association, the regulation would be invalid. If the city had mixed motives in enacting the regulation, the city must show that it would have reached the same decision in the absence of the forbidden motives for the regulation to stand.
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