1970’s Detroit Gets in a Twitter Feud 

By Abby Cover

In 1976, the Supreme Court of the United States decided a case about the powers of local governments. American Mini Theaters, a small movie theater chain, opened two adult movie theaters showing pornographic films in the city of Detroit, Michigan. The town’s ordinances prohibited these theaters from opening due to their proximity to residential areas, and other buildings with specified regulated uses. American Mini Theaters felt this infringed on their 14th amendment right to due process, and their First Amendment right to free speech. After much back and forth between the lower courts, the Supreme Court made the ultimate decision: the City of Detroit was allowed to forbid American Mini Theaters from opening their adult theaters. This allowed for a wider understanding of police powers and the dynamics therein for American cities and planning. What follows is a Twitter and faux blogpost dramatization of these court cases.


Bancroft, Angus. 2000. “‘No Interest in Land’: Legal and Spatial Enclosure of Gypsy-Travellers in Britain.” Space & Polity 4 (1)

Bowles, S. (1991). “What Markets Can – And Cannot – Do”. In: Challenge 34.4

Hudson Jr., David L. “Young v. American Mini Theatres.” Accessed October 30, 2022. https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/25/young-v-american-mini-theatres.

Justia Law. “Young v. American Mini Theatres, Inc., 427 U.S. 50 (1976).” Accessed October 30, 2022. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/427/50/.

Oyez. “Young v. American Mini Theatres, Inc.” Accessed October 30, 2022. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1975/75-312.

Abby is in her first year of the City and Regional Planning Master’s Program, and is looking forward to sharing all she has learned with her future employers. She previously studied Sociology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Before coming to UNC, Abby could be found galivanting through her native Philadelphia (Go Birds!). Her planning interests include climate adaptations, sustainable development, and fostering community engagement. Outside of planning, you can find her grabbing a bagel sandwich, watching horror movies, and wishing for better public transit.

Edited by Jo Kwon

Featured image: Planning Dweeb. Source: Boston Public Library