Judges order injunction against enforcement of permit policy

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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.


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  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

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  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."