Restricting Speech in Minnesota
February 24, 2014
MINNESOTA — The Center for
Religious Expression has filed a lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction
in U.S. District Court on behalf of Dr. James Grinols against the City of
Woodbury which has been unjustly preventing Dr. Grinols from exercising his First
Amendment right to free speech in public parks and ways.
Dr. Grinols enjoys giving speeches and
engaging with other citizens in public areas about his religiously-based
beliefs. But the City of Woodbury, outside of Minneapolis, has impeded his
ability to share his views through an ordinance that compels him and other
individual speakers to secure a permit before they can speak in the city’s
parks, sidewalks and other public spaces.
“This ordinance robs Dr. Grinols and
other ordinary citizens of their First Amendment right to free speech,” said
CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “We are concerned whenever Americans are denied
a voice in the public square.”
When Dr. Grinols attempted to obtain the
required permit to speak at a local park after being invited to be there by a
local organization, his application was arbitrarily denied by the city. Without
the permit, Dr. Grinols was effectively silenced.
The ordinance contains no criteria, allowing the decision-maker to deny the
permit for any reason or no reason at all. And the scheme eliminates all spontaneous speech,” said
“Streets, sidewalks and public parks are quintessential public spaces that our
courts have always seen as appropriate venues for free speech,” added Kellum.
“Whenever a municipality enacts a law that places undue restrictions on speech
in public spaces, citizens ought to be concerned.”