The Law: First Amendment Blues

Chicago wrestles with rights—and riots

In the 1960s, federal courts invoked the First Amendment principles of free speech and free assembly to protect civil rights marches in some of the inflamed Southern cities. Despite wholesale threats of violence, the resulting demonstrations were peaceful, thanks to state and local police ordered in by the courts. But constitutional rights protected in Selma, Ala., in 1965 apparently cannot be secured in Chicago in 1977.

Last week, for instance, fearful that civil order would be disturbed, the city was seeking a court order to prevent a black civil...

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