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National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley (docket #: 97-371) (1998)  [Findlaw]

Secondary Link National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley  [Legal Information Institute]
Argument Date 03/31/1998
Decided 5/25/1998
Supreme Court Vote 8-1
Supreme Court Ruling First Amendment claim denied
IssueWhether a law requiring the National Endowment for the Arts to consider "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public" before awarding grants to artistic projects is impermissibly viewpoint-based and unconstitutionally vague.
Case Summary & Additional Resources
Majority Opinion O'Connor, J. (Ginsberg, J., joined except for Part II-B)
Concurring Opinion Scalia, J. concurring in judgment (joined by Thomas, J.)
Dissenting Opinion Souter, J.
Lower Court 9th Circuit
Lower Court Ruling First Amendment claim sustained
Oral Arguments Oral Arguments  [Oyez]
For Petitioner
Seth P. Waxman, Solicitor General

For Respondent
David D. Cole

Tony Mauro Analysis
Artists ask Supreme Court to throw out decency standard

Attorneys fight for right to provide unrestricted advice to clients

Court's decision on arts funding leaves free speech intact

Supreme Court scrutinizes decency in arts-funding fight

Opinion - Lower Court
Finley v. National Endowment for the Arts, 100 F.3d 671 (9th Cir., 1996) (2-1 per Browning with Kleinfeld dissenting)
Dart, Bob, "High Court to rule on 'decency standard'; Judging art," Atlanta Journal & Constitution," April 1, 1998, sect. A, p. 4
Denniston, Lyle, "High court weighs issue of funding 'indecent' art; U.S. asks to reinstate curb on NEA grants," Baltimore Sun, April 1, 1998, sect. A, p. 1
Duin, Julia, "Justices discuss defining decency; NEA case centers on artistic merit," Washington Times," April 1, 1998, sect. A, p. 4
Greenhouse, Linda, "Hearing Case on Art Grants, Court Reflects on 'Decency'," New York Times, April 1, 1998, sect. A, p. 18
Marquand, Robert, "Can Congress Decide What Is Art?," Christian Science Monitor," April 1, 1998, p. 1
Mauro, Tony, "High court hears case on arts funding," USA Today, April 1, 1998, sect. A, p. 4
O'Brien, Tim, Federal Arts Funding Before Supreme Court," ABC Good Morning America, March 31, 1998 (transcript available on LexisNexis)
Savage, David, "High Court Hears Case on U.S. Arts Grants," Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1998, p. 11
Totenberg, Nina, "Court Hears 'Decency' Case," National Public Radio, March 31, 1998 (transcript available on LexisNexis)
Usborne, David, "Artists' court plea tests limits of decency," The Independent London," April 1, 1998, p. 11
Bezanson, Randall P., "The Government Speech Forum: Forbes & Finley & Government Speech Selection Judgments," 83 Iowa Law Review 953 (1998)
Bloom, Lackland, "NEA v. Finley: A Decision in Search of a Rationale," 77 Washington University Law Quarterly 1 (1999)
Chemerinsky, Erwin, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: PRINCIPLES & POLICIES (2002), sect. 11.2
Cole, David, "Symposium: Art, Distribution & the State: Perspectives in the National Endowment for the Arts," 17 Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal 705 (1999)
Greene, Abner, ""Government of the Good," 53 Vanderbilt Law Review 1 (2000)
Heyman, Stephen, "State-Supported Speech," 1999 Wisconsin Law Review 1119
Redish, Martin & Kessler, Daryl, "Governmental Subsidies and Free Expression," 80 Minnesota Law Review 543 (1996)
Schauer, Frederick, "Principles, Institutions, and the First Amendment," 112 Harvard Law Review 84 (1998)
Editorial, "Funding Controversial Art," St. Louis-Post Dispatch," April 1, 1998, sect. B, p. 6
Sullivan Kathleen, "Supreme Court Hears First Amendment Challenge to Limits on NEA Grants," Legal Times, March 30, 1998, p. 21
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