City Sponsorship Rule Won’t Go to High Court

     (CN) – Cincinnati failed to convince the Supreme Court to review a decision that it unconstitutionally required advocacy groups to have a city sponsor before holding events at city hall.

     The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending & Taxes was twice denied access to city hall, where it planned to hold a press conference and rally opposing traffic cameras.
     The city claimed it barred the rally and press conference because the events were not sponsored by a city official.
     COAST, joined by and Chairman Mark Miller, argued that city officials selectively enforced this sponsorship requirement against groups with which it did not agree.
     A federal judge struck down the sponsorship requirement as “unconstitutionally vague” and barred its enforcement.
     The 6th Circuit in Cincinnati agreed in September, saying the requirement “gives complete discretion to council members and department heads to select whom they will sponsor.”
     The court also viewed city hall as a limited public forum, where the government can restrict speech so long as the restrictions don’t discriminate based on viewpoint and are “reasonable in light of the purpose served by the forum.”     Although the court rejected the advocacy group’s First Amendment expressive association and equal protection claims, it found adequate reasons for upholding the injunction.

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