Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Constitution Anyone?, Part I.

Over the next two posts, we will be examining overzealous court decisions preventing First Amendment activities.

The first involves the ubiquitous Johnnie Cochran. It seems that a certain member of the public did not appreciate Mr. Cochran's performance in the O.J. Simpson case or something else. So, he took to picketing Mr. Cochran's office with signs calling him "a crook, a liar and a thief" and a "bad boy". (J. Steele, "Speaking of Johnnie", California Lawyer, February 2005, p. 12.)

A court ordered the picketer to permanently refrain from saying anything about Mr. Cochran--good or bad. (Id.) Specifically, the order forbids Ulysses Tory from (1) picketing Mr. Cochran's office and (2) 'orally uttering' any statements in a public forum about him or anyone at his firm. (Id.)

The California Supreme Court affirmed this expansive injunction in 2003, but the US Supreme Court accepted review. The High Court will likely hear oral arguments on the case by the end of April, 2005. Mr. Tory's legal eagle? Professor Erwin Chemerinsky of Duke and formerly of USC will serve as his lead counsel.

Prediction: reversal or modification.