Supreme Court to hear case involving application First Amendment to car horns

November 20, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case on whether First Amendment rights apply to the use of a car horn, something which a plaintiff in the case at issue argues is often used to express support for protests.

Susan Porter, a 69-year-old woman from California, was ticketed for "illegal use of horn" by a sheriff after she honked her horn in support of a protest outside of her congressman's office in 2017.

Porter then filed a lawsuit challenging the California traffic law restricting the use of a car horn except to warn other drivers.

She argues that a car horn can be used as a form of expression, as was the case when she honked in support of a local demonstration, and thus the California law banning the use of a car horn for purposes other than warning drivers violates the First Amendment.

Porter's lawyers passionately argued in a brief that, "The car horn is the sound of democracy in action."

The Supreme Court has already found that the First Amendment's speech protections expand beyond the spoken word, so Porter may have a real shot at winning her case.

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