Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston
U.S. Supreme Court
What's at stake
Speaker autonomy and the right to choose the content of one’s own message to be expressed at an event.
The right of individuals and private organizations to speak messages consistent with one’s beliefs or mission free from government-mandated messages.
The Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston (GLIB) requested to be allowed to march in a longstanding St. Patrick’s Day parade “as a way to express pride in their Irish heritage as openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals.” When the parade’s private organizers, a veterans’ group, decided it did not want to express that message in their parade, GLIB sued them, claiming that the organizers' exclusion of the group from the parade violated Massachusetts’ public accommodation law. The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court of the United States where the Court examined the question of whether private citizens and organizations have the right to determine what message their activities convey to the public or whether the government can compel them to express a message at odds with their beliefs.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government may not misuse a public accommodation law to compel individuals or organizations to speak or endorse a message inconsistent with their beliefs or goals, nor can it alter the content of the speaker’s message. The Court held that the veterans’ group organizing the St. Patrick’s Day parade had the autonomy to choose the message conveyed by its parade and could not be compelled to include messages or content that would alter the parade’s intended message.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom provided funding for the veterans’ appeal to the Supreme Court of United States.