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Compact case
Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 2000
Length: 2 pages

Abstract

In February, 1998, the 28-year-old newly-elected mayor of the small city of Coeur d''Alene Idaho faces, without warning, a decision which would tax both the most experienced mayor and constitutional lawyer. The neo-Nazi group known as the Aryan Nation, headquartered outside of the city, has requested a parade permit to march, with full Nazi regalia, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. Mayor Steve Judy must weigh a wide range of factors-free speech rights, local public opinion and the national image of the resort city-as he confronts his choice. When city attorney Jeff Jones advises him that there appears to be no constitutional way to avoid granting the parade permit, the young Mayor must decide whether it is better--both for the city and his own political survival--to approve the request or deny it, knowing that it would be steered to the courts. He must weigh the apparent inevitability of the parade against the message that would be sent to the nation (national media attention quickly focuses on the controversy) should he refuse to authorize it. This political ethics case combines legal and political issues, as well as--through discussion of the choices faced by the city attorney--the question of the responsibility of career employees to elected officials.

About

Abstract

In February, 1998, the 28-year-old newly-elected mayor of the small city of Coeur d''Alene Idaho faces, without warning, a decision which would tax both the most experienced mayor and constitutional lawyer. The neo-Nazi group known as the Aryan Nation, headquartered outside of the city, has requested a parade permit to march, with full Nazi regalia, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. Mayor Steve Judy must weigh a wide range of factors-free speech rights, local public opinion and the national image of the resort city-as he confronts his choice. When city attorney Jeff Jones advises him that there appears to be no constitutional way to avoid granting the parade permit, the young Mayor must decide whether it is better--both for the city and his own political survival--to approve the request or deny it, knowing that it would be steered to the courts. He must weigh the apparent inevitability of the parade against the message that would be sent to the nation (national media attention quickly focuses on the controversy) should he refuse to authorize it. This political ethics case combines legal and political issues, as well as--through discussion of the choices faced by the city attorney--the question of the responsibility of career employees to elected officials.

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