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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

In its landmark decision in City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Los Angeles city ordinance prohibiting the temporary placement of political posters on the public streets. Disregarding the strong protection that it traditionally had bestowed on political speech in such public forums, the Court upheld the ordinance because it was narrowly tailored to serve the city's significant interests in promoting aesthetic values. This Article argues that Vincent represents an unjustified departure from established first amendment analysis. The Article describes how the Court's increasing protection of certain categories of speech has weakened the protections historically afforded to political speech. Finally, the Article suggests that the Court should provide renewed protection for political speech by reasserting heightened scrutiny of speech-restrictive regulations, by seriously examining the speaker's alternative access to comparable forums, or by recognizing a hierarchy among types of speech that acknowledges the fundamental role of political speech as the basis of our democratic institutions.

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