Schaumburg v. Citizens for a Better Environment

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In Schaumburg v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 444 U.S. 620, 634 (1980), the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a municipal ordinance prohibiting the solicitation of contributions by charitable organizations that do not use at least 75 percent of their receipts for "charitable purposes," those purposes being defined to exclude solicitation expenses, salaries, overhead, and other administrative expenses.

The Court, in an opinion written by Justice Byron White, held the ordinance to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment as incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment.

This decision is cited for the proposition that a plaintiff may obtain an expansive remedy out of concern that the threat of enforcement of an overbroad law may deter or "chill" constitutionally protected speech--especially when the overbroad statute imposes criminal sanctions.

Only Justice William Rehnquist dissented.

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