The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided, in an opinion filed today, that the City of Sparks, Nevada and two of its police officers violated the First Amendment rights of a political activist when, in 2002, they excluded her voter registration and petition signature-gathering activity from Victorian Square, a downtown area for which John Ascuaga's Nugget had obtained a city permit to occupy for its four-day annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. In effect, the court ruled that the government cannot suspend the general public's free speech and petition rights native to a public forum for the benefit of a particular speaker permitted to use the forum for its activities.
Defendants conduct resulting in a complete exclusion of Plaintiff on Thursday, for no reason other than the asserted right of the permittees to exclude anyone expressing a political message, violated the First Amendment.
Dietrich v. John Ascuaga's Nugget, No. 06-17135