Goldstein v. Town of Nantucket, 1979

Nantucket, MA, USA

Nantucket’s “Transient Vendor Bylaw” deprives buskers of their First Amendment rights. Accepting contributions does not dilute your rights. Needing to get approval (i.e. auditioning) is “unqualified censorship”.

Bery v. New York (1997)

New York City, NY, USA

Expression about philosophical, social, artistic, economic, literary or ethical matters… is entitled to full First Amendment protection

Jews for Jesus v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (1991)

Boston, MA, USA

Stations are traditional public forums and the Guidelines* are unconstitutional regulations for such locations. Permit requirement is overbroad and fails to make a distinction between individual activity and parade-type activity.

Perry and Newman v. Los Angeles Police Department (1997)

Los Angeles, CA, USA

The First Amendment fully protects soliciting donations for busking and selling merch on the streets. There is no justification for allowing NPOs to sell items and solicit donations, while banning others from the same activities.*

Horton v. City of St. Augustine, Florida (2001)

St. Augustine, FL, USA

Musical performances, even performances conducted with small musical instruments or even singing , cannot be shown to impact pedestrian traffic. This law* criminalises wholly-innocent activities.

Berger v. City of Seattle (2009)

Seattle, WA, USA

A permitting requirement is a prior restraint on speech. The City’s interests in punishing wrongful conduct could be achieved just as effectively without the permitting regulation.

Davenport v. Alexandria, 1983

Alexandria, VA, USA

Annoying some pedestrians (even making them walk into the street infrequently) does not outweigh First Amendment rights. The sidewalk is a traditional First Amendment area. Parks/Plazas do not offer “an adequate alternative forum”.

Carew-Reid v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (1990)

New York City, NY, USA

There’s no necessary connection between amplified music and loud music, so the amplifier ban suppresses more speech than necessary to reduce noise.

Friedrich v. Chicago (1985)

Chicago, IL, USA

Just as the First Amendment protects buskers’ expression, it also extends special protection to the places where they want to perform (sidewalks). The sidewalks in the areas covered by the ordinance* are “public forums”, because of this the government’s ability to permissibly restrict busking there is very limited.

Turley v. New York City (1999)

New York City, NY, USA

NYC busker permit for amplifiers is too expensive* and does not consider buskers’ economies. Police officers cannot use their discretion to determine appropiate volume levels. The confiscation of instruments/amplifiers is unconstitutional.

Mastrovincinzo and Santos v. New York City (2004)

New York City, NY, USA

The Ordinance’s license requirement* unconstitutionally infringes on the artists’ First Amendment rights to sell their work in public places.


Baroness Williams of Trafford, re: The Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014


“We have made it clear in the statutory guidance…that they should not use the new powers to stop reasonable activities such as busking or other forms of street entertainment that are not causing anti-social behaviour.

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