Federal Judge Upholds Denver Convention Protest Zone
Update 8/7: Here's my breakdown of yesterday's federal court decision upholding Denver's planned protest zone.
In a 71 page ruling available here, a federal judge in Denver today upheld Denver's planned protest zone for the Democratic National Convention, finding the plan does not run afoul of the First Amendment. As the Denver Post reports:
The demonstrators wanted the public-protest area moved closer to the delegates coming in and out of the Pepsi Center, and they wanted parade routes to end closer to the venue.
Law-enforcement officials and Denver representatives argued during a one-day trial that there has been a robust effort made to allow groups of all backgrounds to demonstrate and that security concerns superceded the demonstrators' need to be closer to the delegates.
The last paragraphs of the ruling:[More...]
The Court finds that the Plaintiffs have shown that the challenged restrictions affect their ability to engage in expressive activities in traditional public fora. However, the Defendants have shown that the restrictions are content-neutral, that they are narrowly tailored to serve important governmental interests, and that there are adequate alternative channels by which the Plaintiffs can communicate their messages.
Thus, the Plaintiffs have not shown that their First Amendment rights will be infringed, nor that they are entitled to any injunctive relief.
As to the "alternative channels" the ruling states:
In addition to participating in any of the 18 approved parades, the parties are free to assemble, demonstrate, and protest on nearly all of the city’s public streets (subject to compliance with all generally applicable laws and ordinances). They may visit the public/Demonstration Zone, avail themselves of the communicative opportunities afforded by their permits to hold events in city parks, and communicate through innumerable media outlets.
For the reasons previously discussed, the Court finds that, given the minimal burdens on speech reflected in the parade-related denials, the parties have ample alternative channels in which they can adequately communicate their messages.
Still to come: The Judge's ruling on the protest zones at Invesco Field where Sen. Barack Obama will deliver his nomination acceptance speech.
|< Pawlenty Praises Obama's Positive Message | How Would Nominee Clinton Have Treated Obama? >|