Town resolution prohibiting political speech to be eliminated
Friday, Sept 17th, 2010
A district court judge in Northern Ohio has overturned a local government decision to prohibit a celebration of the US Constitution today in the township of Andover.
As we reported earlier this week , members of the Andover Tea Party in Ohio were notified that they would be banned from holding a public rally with speakers and performers in the Town’s central square on Constitution Day.
Township officials cited the group’s “political affiliation” as the determining factor, saying that any celebrations would be inappropriate for the public arena.
However, legal representatives for the group cited the fact that previous events in the park have carried far more weighty political affiliations than a simple celebration of the Constitution of the United States.
Following a move for a legal injunction against the local officials filed by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law , Judge Donald C. Nugent ruled in favour of the Tea Party group, granting a restraining order until the merits of the case can be decided.
The judge awarded a “preliminary injunction that shall remain in effect until further notice,” meaning that the Tea Party group will be able to go ahead with their celebrations in Andover today.
The 1851 Center, a non-partisan public interest law firm, called the ruling a “victory”, following the complaint charging that township officials had violated the Constitutional rights of residents.
Local officials had cited a resolution that allows them “on a case by case basis” to ban events in the square that they deem too “political”.
Following the Judge’s ruling, however, the officials are set to meet to eliminate the resolution.
“The First Amendment clearly protects the right to gather on the public square, speak out in support of limited constitutional government, and critique the current state of affairs,” 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson told Fox News .
“The townships’ self-aggrandizing authority to pick and choose who may speak, based upon whether they approve of the speaker’s message, is entirely unconstitutional.” Thompson added.
“You know, the First Amendment is something that everybody knows enough about to make this an easy issue,” Thompson elaborated in an interview with CNS News . “These people again are either ill-intentioned or thoughtless — we really don’t know which. Either is bad government.”
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor at Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and regular contributor to Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.