Streets, parks, and similar places traditionally used for purposes of discussion and assembly are public forums where people have liberty to communicate their thoughts. Persons lacking the status, money or charisma necessary to command coverage by the mass media often desperately seek access to the public forum. Once access is obtained, ideas can be communicated in a cost-effective manner. However, like other first amendment cases, public forum cases are not fungible. The varying weights of competing interests and the instability of ad hoc balancing tests have created a need for doctrinal structure. The Supreme Court's evolving public forum doctrine is an attempt to meet that need.
Gary C. Leedes,
Pigeonholes in the Public Forum,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol20/iss3/6