SIGNIFICANCE: SEFICK V. GARDNER

Case NameSefick v. Gardner 
Citation: 990 F.Supp. 587 (1998)
TopicsDefamation; Time, Place and Manner Regulations; Public Forum; Privacy and Publicity Rights

Sefick is an artist who created a satirical sculpture depicting a federal court judge. Sefick was denied permission to display the sculpture in the lobby of a federal courthouse. Sefick sued the Government Service Administration (“GSA”), alleging the suppression represented nonpublic forum, officials are not required to follow content neutral rules. They may exercise considerable selectivity in light of the needs and primary purpose of the forum, provided it does not transgress basic anti-discrimination rules, that is, viewpoint neutral guidelines.

Second, the court found the building officials had reasonable and legitimate explanations for denying Sefick access, including security concerns and ongoing construction in the lobby. In such, taken together with the fact that the GSA had previously promoted the display of Sefick’s sardonic art, the court reasoned that because the courthouse was a nonpublic forum, government policy could discriminate on the basis of content between the sardonic and the somber. Thus, there were no grounds for inferring discrimination based upon viewpoint, but merely upon content.

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