Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Viewpoint Discrimination: Second Circuit Opinion on the Moffat Lawn
In a brief opinion today, the Second Circuit upheld summary judgment against the Town of Blooming Grove and Village of Washingtonville, New York. The problem? The Moffat Lawn, known familiarly as The Lawn.
As the court states, the "Town and Village opened the Lawn for expression on the subjects of war and
military service when they permitted speakers from private groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (“VFW”), to use it." However, when the plaintiff Alexandra Coe wanted to hold a peace rally on The Lawn, the Town demanded a one million dollar liability insurance policy, a requirement that had not been imposed on the VFW.
The Town and Village passed various regulations declaring that The Lawn was not a public forum. The court was not impressed, because even if the forum was a limited public forum, the government could not engage in viewpoint discrimination.
The Second Circuit also rejected the government's attempt to rely on Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 129 S. Ct. 1125 (2009), by arguing that the VFW, but not Ms. Coe, conveyed the government's message: "we find no evidence that the Town or Village authorized, approved, controlled, or ratified the VFW’s speech."
[The case was litigated by a CUNY School of Law alum;
Congratulations Stephen Bergstein]
[image: Moffat Library, Washingtonville, NY, via]