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. The government’s action in this case, ironically, demonstrates the need for greater public understanding of Constitutional rights. One way to do that is through commemoration of Constitution Day.
September 10, 2010 – 1851 Center Files Federal Court Action to Defend First Amendment Rights
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today filed a complaint and temporary restraining order against Andover Township (Ashtabula County) in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. The complaint charges that township trustees’ actions blocking a Constitution Day (Sept. 17) rally on Andover Public Square, by local residents, violated the First Amendment. The 1851 Center, a non-partisan public interest law firm, is representing residents Margaret L. Slingluff, Emily Kobialko and Scott Bankson, organizers of the “Andover Tea Party,” in the action.
Township officials informed the residents that speech at the Constitution Day rally could be of a “political nature,” and thus inappropriate for the public square.
The decision to deny access to the park was made in accordance with a township resolution allowing officials to determine public space usage “on a case by case basis,” and to ban speech that they deem too “political.” However, the park in question is a common gathering point for public events that often have far more political overtones. Officials made no inquiry as to the size of the rally, or other pertinent logistical concerns.
September 15, 2010: 1851 Center Wins Injunction Against Andover Township Officials Who Blocked Constitution Day Rally
A federal court granted the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law a temporary injunction against Andover Township in Ashtabula County. The ruling is a victory for Andover Township residents who were previously blocked by township officials from celebrating Constitutional Day (Sept. 17) with a rally at a public park.
The order was issued by Judge Donald C. Nugent.
The 1851 Center, a non-partisan public interest law firm, is representing residents Margaret L. Slingluff, Emily Kobialko and Scott Bankson, organizers of the “Andover Tea Party,” in the action.
Motion for Temporary Restraining Order
Memo in support of Temporary Restraining Order
Andover Township letter to residents blocking the rally
Judge Nugent’s Order