Free Speech on the Docket

City of Seven Hills v. Aryan Nations
76 Ohio St.3d 304 (1996)

Case Dates:
Tuesday, 18 October, 1983 - Wednesday, 14 August, 1996
Facts:

In anticipation of the return of a Nazi war criminal, John Demjanjuk, the City of Seven Hills passed an ordinance that prevented residential picketing in the city, along with a separate injunction that banned picketers with opposing viewpoints from protesting simultaneously and in the same place. The city worried that simultaneous demonstrations by antagonistic groups, such as the KKK and the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, could lead to violence. After some of the demonstrations occurred, the city filed for a temporary restraining order to prevent more protests.

The ACLU defended Rabbi Avraham Weiss who, along with several other groups and individuals, wished to protest Demjanjuk’s return. ACLU attorneys Kevin O’Neill and Ray Vasvari argued that the city’s actions violated the parties’ First Amendment right to free speech. A trial court struck down the ban on residential picketing, but allowed the ban on simultaneous picketing to remain in effect. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the trial court’s injunction against simultaneous picketing was a violation of the First Amendment, and the injunction was reversed.

Read the decision.