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High Court Tosses Challenge To California Honking Law

When Susan Porter honked her car horn during a protest in 2017, she viewed the familiar sound was a form of speech that should be protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court on Monday brushed aside an appeal from the Californian, who received a ticket after beeping to support a group that had gathered outside her congressman’s office. Though the ticket was dismissed, Porter argued that the anti-honking law itself is unconstitutional,   CNN reports.. The car horn is the sound of democracy in action,” Porter’s attorneys told the Supreme Court in their appeal.


Attorneys at the First Amendment Coalition said that beeping a car horn can be protected speech in many circumstances, such as when drivers are celebrating a World Series win or are indicating support for a candidate waving signs on the side of the road during the rush hour. During the 2020 campaign, President Biden frequently held “drive-in” rallies because of the COVID-19 pandemic where applause was often replaced with the sound of blaring car horns. Some 41 states, including California, have laws that limit the use of a car horn to traffic situations. Maine bars any “unnecessary” use of a horn. Oregon prohibits beeping for anything other than giving “reasonable warning.” The laws are different from noise ordinances, which may ban honking at certain times and places. California officials said the anti-honking law was “justified by an important interest in traffic safety,” ensuring other drivers aren’t distracted and cause accident.

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