Attorneys for Gregory Lee Johnson (Respondent)
The first thing to remember is this: Even though you are re-enacting a 1989 Supreme Court case, this is not the Court of 1989. You must make your own arguments and build your own defense.

Since you are the respondent, you will present second — after the petitioner.

To prepare your presentation before the Supreme Court, you should carefully prepare a brief statement of your position. Be sure the statement includes facts that support your position. It should also mention any earlier cases that support your position.

To get you started, here are some points made by Johnson’s attorney in the actual Supreme Court hearing:

  • Johnson’s activities were symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.
  • Previous court rulings had protected symbolic speech.
  • Johnson’s activities did not pose a danger to the public. In fact, the only danger was to Johnson, who might have been attacked by spectators.

You should understand the First Amendment concept: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech … .”

  • What speech does the First Amendment protect?
  • Is this case an example of protected or unprotected speech?
  • What is symbolic speech? How does the concept of symbolic speech apply to this case?

You also should understand the First Amendment concept: “… right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  • How was Gregory Lee Johnson exercising this right?

You should think about how to refute the arguments of the other side.

  • What will be their most cogent arguments?
  • What is your rebuttal?

You may use cases after 1989 to argue your position, as well as those that were precedents for this case when it was first argued.

When you have outlined and written your statement, pick one student to present it. At least two other group members should be prepared to answer questions from the justices.

Remember, the justices can interrupt at any time — even before you have made all your points.

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