Judge Says City Hall Bans Unconstitutional
A federal judge says the City of Austin can no longer ban people from City Hall’s plaza.
The case revolves around a practice that came to light last year, amid the Occupy Austin protest at City Hall. Some Occupy members were issued criminal trespass notices and told they were banned from the plaza, sometimes for up to two years.
Two Occupiers – Rodolfo Sanchez and Kristopher Sleeman – took the city to court.
Today, a judge ruled such bans unconstitutional, saying it violated the plaintiff’s First Amendment free speech rights.
“Essentially what it did was it put the burden on the citizen to prove that the citizen had the right to exercise their First Amendment, rather than vice versa,” said Jim Harrington, who directs the Texas Civil Rights Project and was one of the attorneys representing Sanchez and Sleeman.
The city did have a process to appeal plaza bans, but the judge found the process violates a citizen’s right to due process.