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Confident PluralismSurviving and Thriving through Deep Difference$
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John D. Inazu

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226365459

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226365596.001.0001

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The Public Forum Requirement

The Public Forum Requirement

Public Spaces, Private Forums, and Parks Recreation

(p.50) Chapter 3 The Public Forum Requirement
Confident Pluralism

John D. Inazu

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 3 introduces the related concept of the public forum through the popular television show Parks & Recreation. Real-life public forums, like the forums depicted in Parks & Rec, are government-provided spaces where viewpoints become voices. They are an essential part of Confident Pluralism because they allow citizens and the groups that they form to advocate, protest, and witness in common spaces—and they are insufficiently protected under current constitutional doctrine. We have seen these weaknesses exposed in a variety of settings, including the crackdown of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, restrictions against labor activism, and regulations of anti-abortion protesters. Correcting these weaknesses will require greater attention to the shortcomings of time, place, and manner restrictions, and to an emerging doctrine known as government speech. A separate challenge arises because public forums are not the only places where we enact the aspirations of Confident Pluralism—privately owned spaces like coffee shops, parks, and online service providers increasingly serve this function. Ordinary citizens need either spaces provided and facilitated by the government or “private public forums” to come together for purposes of dissent, disagreement, and diversity. Let's call this the Public Forum Requirement.

Keywords:   public forum, private public forums, government speech, protests, Parks and Recreation, Ferguson

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