Court Rules Signs Are Allowed in House Galleries
Judge Blocks House Ban on Signs for Duration of Lawsuit
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2023
Lindsay Kee, 615-320-7142
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Davidson County judge has blocked enforcement of the Tennessee House of Representatives’ rule for the special session that bans signs in the galleries of the House while litigation is pending.
The ruling comes in response to the Tennessee attorney general filing a motion to dismiss the Davidson County judge’s emergency injunction issued last week that blocked the sign ban.
ACLU-TN filed the lawsuit challenging the sign ban on behalf of Tennessee residents Allison Polidor, Erica Bowton and Maryam Abolfazli, who were forced to leave a House subcommittee meeting by state troopers for quietly holding 8 ½ x 11 inch pieces of paper expressing their opinions on issues before the subcommittee.
In its ruling, the court found that the “sign ban is patently unreasonable” and “so broad that it encompasses behavior that is not disruptive, as is the case here.” The court further found that “Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits of their facial First Amendment challenge to Rule 4 as it relates to banning all signs.”
Today’s ruling confirms that the plaintiffs’ rights will be protected and that they will not suffer irreparable harm as litigation continues and the court takes up the assertions in the lawsuit that the House rule banning signs denies the plaintiffs their constitutional rights to speak freely, assemble and petition the government under the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions.
No hearing date has yet been set.
The following can be attributed to ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Kathryn Sinback:
“Today’s ruling protects the free speech rights of Tennesseans to express their opinions to their elected representatives on issues they care about. The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is at the core of the First Amendment. This is critical to a functioning democracy, now more than ever.”
ACLU-TN’s motion filed today can be found at: https://www.aclu-tn.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/Plaintiffs-Response-to-Defs-Motion-to-Dissolve-or-Stay_Redacted.pdf
Today’s ruling can be found online at: https://www.aclu-tn.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/23-1132-II-8-28-2023-SIGNED.pdf