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Greer v. Spock

Significance, A Military Mission, A Long Court Battle, Discrimination Or Not?, A Dissenting View


Commander Greer, Fort Dix Military Reservation


Benjamin Spock, M.D., Julius Hobson, Linda Jenness, Andrew Pulley, et al.

Petitioner's Claim

That the Court should overturn two lower courts' rulings, which had forbidden him to interfere with candidates of the People's Party and the Socialist Workers Party as they distributed literature and held political meetings in areas of Fort Dix that were open to the public.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Robert H. Bork, U.S. Solicitor General

Chief Lawyer for Respondents

David Kairys

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart (writing for the Court), Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, (John Paul Stevens did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

24 March 1976


The lower courts' injunctions were reversed, so that Commander Greer was free to ban pamphleteering and political meetings from the base if he so chose. He was not allowed to discriminate among candidates based on their political views, but he was permitted to ban some candidates if he thought they might threaten military discipline.

Related Cases

  • Rescue Army v. Municipal Court of City of Los Angeles, 331 U.S. 549 (1947).
  • United States ex rel. Toth v. Quarles, 350 U.S. 11 (1955).
  • Cafeteria Workers v. McElroy, 367 U.S. 886 (1961).
  • Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39 (1966).
  • Flower v. United States, 407 U.S. 197 (1972).
  • Houchins v. KQED, 438 U.S. 1 (1978).

Further Readings

  • "High Court Limits Military Rights."New York Times, 25 March 1976, p. 29.
  • Werhan, Keither. "The Supreme Court's public forum doctrine and the return of formalism." Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 7, no. 2, winter 1986, pp. 335-437.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980