Judges order injunction against enforcement of permit policy

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A man who wanted to protest a proposed United Nations arms treaty on Indianapolis’ Monument Circle in 2012 but was kicked off the property because of a lack of permit was victorious in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday.

Eric Smith and his son sought to protest the Arms Trade Treaty on the Circle. They made flyers announcing the protest, but no one showed up except the two of them. The Circle is an outdoor state-run public property; the Indiana War Memorials Commission supervises the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Monument Circle.

Once they began protesting, a commission employee asked if Smith had an event permit. Since he did not, the employee told the two to leave the property. They moved after state police arrived.

Smith sued in federal court, claiming the commission’s permit policy – which was unwritten at the time – violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Christina Gaither, the commission’s director of administration, testified about the policy, which revealed numerous inconsistencies. For example, the policy would require Smith to get a permit, but 25 people could gather for lunch on the Circle and not need a permit. She was uncertain if those people would need a permit if they wore political T-shirts during the meal.

The commission claims Smith’s appeal of the denial of his motion for a preliminary injunction is moot because they have since enacted a written permit policy.

But in Eric Smith v. Executive Director of the Indiana War Memorials Commission, et al., 13-1939, the 7th Circuit noted that the new policy retains the problematic features of the old policy, so the appeal is not moot.  Judge David Hamilton noted that although the amended policy has an exception for groups smaller than fifteen, it also contains so many
exceptions to that exception that it still requires permits for many smaller events, including events like Smith’s July 2012 protest of the arms treaty and others he is likely to organize in the future.

The judges found Smith made the necessary showing to obtain a preliminary injunction, so they ordered the District Court to determine the proper scope of the injunction, including whether it should extend beyond Monument Circle to other properties the commission administers.

“As we have explained, the number of people who must be allowed to gather without a permit may depend on the specifics of the space in question. We decide here only that Smith appears likely to prove at trial that fifteen is too small a number to trigger a permit requirement for Monument Circle and that he has met the other requirements for preliminary injunctive relief,” Hamilton wrote.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.