Coalition Files Suit Against City for Violations of Free Speech Rights Ahead of RNC March

Affiliate: ACLU of Minnesota
March 24, 2008 12:00 am

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St. Paul, MN – Cooperating attorneys for the ACLU of Minnesota and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild filed a complaint today in the United States District Court, against the City of St. Paul on behalf of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War. The complaint challenges the City’s violation of the Coalition’s rights to free speech and due process of law, in connection with the Coalition’s plans to demonstrate at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul on September 1, 2008. The complaint seeks to require the City of St. Paul to grant the Coalition’s request for a demonstration permit in sufficient detail, and to require the City to amend its permit procedure to provide basic due process to permit applicants.

The City has violated the Coalition’s right to free speech and due process by failing to issue anything other than an ambiguous “Conditional Alternative Permit” in response to the Coalition’s demonstration application, and by failing to grant the Coalition’s appeal of the “Conditional Alternative Permit”, to seek basic clarification of the conditions under which the demonstration will occur. The current “Conditional Alternative Permit” fails to specify any time or route for the demonstration, and imposes police guidelines that conflict with City ordinance and violate the First Amendment. The City of St. Paul simultaneously maintains that the current permit provides a sufficient answer to the Coalition’s application, and that the current permit does not constitute a final permit sufficient to warrant an appeal. Such an ambiguous position restrains both the Coalition’s speech rights and its access to administrative process. In the interest of free speech and rigorous public discourse, the Coalition must be granted its permit in full, with sufficient time to continue planning for the influx of up to 50,000 demonstrators in St. Paul in September, 2008.

Cooperating attorneys representing the Coalition include Robert J. Hennessey, Lindquist & Vennum PLLP; Bruce Nestor, De Leon & Nestor; David B. Potter, Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly LLP; Howard Bass, Bass Law Firm; and Jordan Kushner, Kushner Law Office. Professor Raleigh Levine from William Mitchell College of Law has been consulting on the case.

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