FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2014
CONTACT: Lindsay Kee, ACLU-TN communications director, 615-320-7142
CINCINNATI – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee returns to court today as two Tennessee officials appeal last year’s federal court ruling that they violated the First Amendment rights of Occupy Nashville protesters. Oral arguments will be heard today in the ACLU-TN lawsuit Occupy Nashville et al., v. Haslam et al.
In a ruling underscoring Tennesseans’ right to political speech, a federal judge ruled last summer that the state of Tennessee’s arrest of Occupy Nashville protesters was an unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment rights.
ACLU-TN filed the lawsuit in October 2011 after the State of Tennessee met in secret and revised the rules controlling Legislative Plaza to implement a curfew and require use and security fees and $1,000,000 in liability insurance prior to community members engaging in assembly activity. The state then arrested the Occupy Nashville demonstrators under the new rules. Prior to their arrests, the demonstrators had been gathered at Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville to peacefully express their frustration with the government for a couple of weeks.
The plaintiffs are represented by ACLU-TN cooperating attorneys David Briley of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC, Patrick Frogge of Bell Tennent & Frogge PLLC, Tricia Herzfeld of Ozment Law; and ACLU-TN legal director Thomas H. Castelli.
ACLU-TN’s brief to the Sixth Circuit can be found here.
The original order for this case can be found here.
The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director:
“Today Tennesseans who lawfully exercised their right to protest are asking the court to protect free speech—the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. The state cannot just arbitrarily limit free speech. We trust the Sixth Circuit will recognize this cornerstone of democracy and safeguard the essential guarantees of the First Amendment.”