Penn State Changes Speech Policy
On February 11, 1999, Julian
Heicklen and Diane Fornbacher were
arrested for using a battery-powered bullhorn at the weekly Marijuana Smoke
Out in downtown State College, PA. They were handcuffed and carried away
for arraignment. On March 3, 1999, they were bound over for trial for
violating the State College Borough Noise Ordinance and for disorderly
Through their respective
attorneys, Simon Grill and Ron Rojas,
Heicklen and Fornbacher filed writs of habeas corpus to have the cases
dismissed. A hearing was held on May 21, 1999. On July 19, 1999, Judge
Thomas King Kistler found the municipal noise ordinance unconstitutional on
its face and dismissed all charges.
In his order Judge Kistler
stated: "The prohibition against the use
of sound amplification devices found in Section 103(b)(2) is an absolute
prohibition of such devices and does not contain reasonable manner, place,
or time regulations. Presumably, the use of amplification is prohibited
even if a person uses such a device to emit sounds in a mere 'whisper'
level. Such an absolute prohibition is an impermissible restraint on free
speech and is not a reasonable regulation according to Guess, supra, and
Saia, supra. Consequently, this Court holds the Borough of State College
Noise Ordinance, Section 103(b)(2), unconstitutional on its face."