(CN) – San Antonio’s requirement that the organizers of marches and parades pick up the tab for traffic control and street cleanup does not violate free speech, the 5th Circuit ruled, because it “provides ample alternatives for unburdened expression.”
The ordinance was challenged by the International Women’s Day March Planning Committee and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition, which claimed the city exempted some organizers from the fees, but not others.
The city also absorbs the first $3,000 of expenses for so-called “First Amendment processions,” including the annual International Women’s Day March organized by the plaintiff committee.
San Antonio also waives the fees for three annual events – the Deiz Y Seis Parade, the Martin Luther King March and the Veterans Day Parade – based on their “broad appeal, historic tradition, cultural significance, and other public benefits.
The 5th Circuit found nothing unconstitutional about the waivers and subsidies.
“San Antonio may permissibly recoup some of its traffic control expenses, while simultaneously subsidizing certain events,” Judge Fortunato Benavides wrote.
The court added that the ordinance made economic sense, as the city “makes a ‘realistic dent’ in its budget by protecting itself from having to bear unexpectedly high … expenses for all the various marches and parades that may be held throughout a year.”