Tuesday, February 2, 2010
5th Cir.: Janitor Union Wins on Claim That Houston's Parade Ordinances Constitutionally Interferes with Ability to Strike
The case is SEIU v. City of Houston (5th Cir 01/29/2010) and Ross Runkel provides a nice run down on the case:
A union representing over 5000 Houston janitors staged a strike, and applied for permits to conduct parades, marches, and rallies in support of that strike. The city of Houston denied several of the requests, so the union sued - alleging that the city ordinances under which the permit applications were processed violated the First Amendment . . . .
The [Fifth Circuit] noted, "[w]e proceed slightly further in invalidating the City's rules than did the district court but leave most of the City's scheme intact." With respect to reversal, the court concluded that 1) the city's sound ordinance was unconstitutional, to the extent it imposed "[t]he limit of two permits per location per thirty-day period[;]" 2) limitations in the city's parade ordinance, which severely limited the hours of the day when parades could be held, was unconstitutional; and 3) the city's park permitting ordinance requirements were unconstitutional in total.
So an interesting case where constitutional law comes to the aid of a union in vindicating its rights to march on public property to support their strike. Of course, this occurs with the backdrop of not too friendly locale for unions in the first place.