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The First Amendment is, of course, implicated whenever a city requires a bookstore, a newsstand, a theater, or an adult business to obtain a license before it can begin to operate. For that reason, as Justice O'Connor explained in her plurality opinion in FW/PBS, Inc. v. Dallas, 493 U. S. 215, 226 (1990), a licensing scheme for businesses that engage in First Amendment activity must be accompanied by adequate procedural safeguards to avert 'the possibility that constitutionally protected speech will be suppressed.' But Justice O'Connor's opinion also recognized that the full complement of safeguards that are necessary in cases that 'present the grave 'dangers of a censorship system' ' are 'not required' in the ordinary adult-business licensing scheme. Id., at 228 (quoting Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U. S. 51, 58 (1965)).


In both contexts, 'undue delay results in the unconstitutional suppression of protected speech,' 493 U. S., at 228, and FW/PBS therefore requires both that the licensing decision be made promptly and that there be 'the possibility of prompt judicial review in the event that the license is erroneously denied.' Ibid. But application of neutral licensing criteria is a 'ministerial action' that regulates speech, rather ...

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