Cleveland's RNC Rules Declared Unconstitutional

[photo: Matt Richmond / ideastream]
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With less than a month to go to the Republican National Convention, a federal judge has overturned many of Cleveland’s RNC-related regulations.

District Court Judge James Gwin sided with the American Civil Liberties Union in their lawsuit against the city. Gwin said the only permitted parade route - across the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge and then right onto Ontario Street - was too distant from the convention site. He said the hours for marching and rules on public speaking were too restrictive. Gwin also said the area downtown where the city’s restrictions would apply, known as the event zone, was too large.

Christine Link is executive director for ACLU of Ohio, the group that brought the case against the city. She says the judge relied on a recent Supreme Court ruling overturning restrictions against protests at abortion clinics in this decision.

“The regulations have to be the least restrictive necessary. They can’t be kind of sloppy, overbroad or unnecessarily expansive," says Link.  

Judge Gwin cited Wednesday’s championship parade in Downtown Cleveland, where a crowd gathered that was likely ten times as large as anything that will occur during the RNC, as a reason to question whether the RNC restrictions are necessary to ensure safety. City officials did not return calls for comment. The city has the option to appeal the ruling, but Link from the ACLU says lawyers from both sides remained at court after the hearing to begin negotiations.

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