|The Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Court House at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan.|
In a setback to artists and sellers of books and other "expressive matter" in New York City's public parks, Federal Judge Richard J. Sullivan of the Southern District of New York has upheld revised Parks Department rules created in 2010 that limit the space available for the vending of materials protected by the first amendment. Judge Sullivan awarded summary judgement to the city in Lederman v. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, 10 Civ. 4800, dismissing artists' claims that the rules were a pretext for driving artists out of the parks.
Vowing to appeal the case to the Second Circuit of the United States Appeals Court, Robert Lederman, one of the plaintiff's in the artist's suit, stated, “We disagree with the ruling in every detail and expect that the appeals court will reverse the decision.”
Judge Sullivan's decision is not entirely surprising. In July of 2010 he denied the artists a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of the revised park rules, stating that the rules did not appear to violate the first amendment and that the artists were unlikely to prevail on the merits of their claims. In addition, at an earlier "Show Cause Hearing" on July 8, 2010, Judge Sullivan, while questioning lawyers for both sides, seemed to indicate that he believed it wasn’t his job to interfere in the city’s management of park rules if ultimately they had a right to regulate the time, place and manner of vending of the "expressive matter vendors" selling first amendment materials. In Monday's ruling, Judge Sullivan appears to have accepted at face value the Parks Department assertions that the artists had "ample other avenues to sell their wares."
However, the ruling does seem to leave the door open for the artists to appeal on a variety of issues. What issues the artists and their lawyers choose to include in their appeal remains to be seen.
The full decision is available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/108588627/SJ-1-Oct-2012
More on the ruling:
OpposingViews.com, Tue, October 02, 2012
NYC Art Activists Must Find New Vending Turf
By Courthouse News