Earlier this month, the 11th Circuit considered the constitutionality of an ordinance enacted in Sandy Springs, Georgia, which criminalizes the distribution of sexual devices.  Although not a First Amendment case, we’re including a post on the case because the decision relates to a First Amendment-protected land use—adult businesses—and introduces an alternative constitutional theory for

This post was authored by Otten Johnson summer law clerk Matt Bender.  Matt is a rising third-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Two weeks ago, a federal court in California dismissed a plaintiff’s claim that casino gaming was a First Amendment-protected activity.

Wared Alfarah, the plaintiff in this case, ran a retail business selling e-cigarette products.  To encourage customers to linger around his store, Mr. Alfarah offered pay-to-play games where the player tried to stop a computer cursor on a specific bar in a series of rotating bars.  If done correctly, the player won a random amount of prize money.  Although the location of the bars was randomized, the player’s “skill” allegedly determined his success.
Continue Reading Federal Court: Gaming is Not Protected Speech

As organizers here in Denver make final preparations for PrideFest this weekend, we report on a case stemming from a similar event scheduled in Syracuse, New York.

A plaintiff who had been prevented from protesting Pride Week in Syracuse in both 2014 and 2015 filed a motion in federal court seeking a preliminary injunction to enjoin the city from restricting the plaintiff’s ability to demonstrate at the upcoming Pride Week festival.  In 2014 and 2015, the plaintiff positioned himself on the sidewalk immediately adjacent to the festival’s entrance with a banner and a voice amplifier, and attempted to “explain[] [his] beliefs to those nearby.”  However, each year, city police officers approached the plaintiff and asked him to move across the street from the festival entrance.  According to video footage taken by the plaintiff, the police officer who approached the plaintiff in 2014 justified his request by stating that the festival organizers’ permit entitled them to exclusive use of the sidewalk area immediately adjacent to the festival entrance.  The police officer who approached the plaintiff in 2015 explained that the festival organizers were entitled to a 40-foot buffer on the area surrounding the festival entrance.
Continue Reading Court Grants Preliminary Injunction in Connection with Syracuse Pride Week Festivities; Buffer Zone Not a Narrowly Tailored Restriction on Speech

Earlier this month, a federal district court granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of the Southwest Airlines’ Pilots Association (SWAPA), directing the City of Chicago to allow an ad proposed by SWAPA to be displayed in the Chicago Midway Airport.  The ad (see here) depicts a Southwest pilot holding a sign that reads “Shareholder Returns: $3.1 Billion.  Pilot Raises: $0.”  Acknowledging that a TRO is an “extraordinary” remedy, the court nonetheless granted it in light of an upcoming Southwest Airlines shareholders’ meeting where pilot compensation would be discussed.
Continue Reading Chicago Fails to Transform Airport Advertising Space to a Non-Public Forum; Disgruntled Pilots’ Ad is Permitted

In an opinion issued last month, a federal district court in Texas denied an event promoter’s request for a preliminary injunction to compel the City of Dallas to contract with the promoter for use of the Dallas Convention Center in connection with a three-day adult entertainment expo called “Exxxotica.”

The promoter contracted with the City to hold Exxxotica at the Convention Center in 2015.  Prior to that event, the promoter had promised the City that no one under eighteen would be admitted to the event, sexual activities would be prohibited and no obscenity or public lewdness would be permitted.  However, despite the promoter’s promises, the City had evidence, including video footage, of likely underage attendees and lewd conduct at the event.
Continue Reading Court Denies Adult Expo’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction; City’s Convention Center is a Limited Public Forum

Last week, in a case we previously covered here, a federal district court in Colorado considered whether plaintiffs have standing to seek permanent injunctive relief when the defendant has stipulated that it has no intention of enforcing a restriction on expressive conduct.

In Verlo v. City and County of Denver, plaintiffs desired to distribute leaflets regarding jury nullification in the plaza outside of Denver’s Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse.  However, the Colorado Second Judicial District, which operates in the courthouse, issued an order essentially prohibiting all expressive activities in the courthouse plaza.  The City and County of Denver, the entity responsible for enforcing the order, stipulated that it would not do so.  Furthermore, the city stipulated that it would not interfere with plaintiffs’ peaceful distribution of leaflets in the plaza.  Notwithstanding the stipulation, plaintiffs sued the city and the Colorado Second Judicial District, claiming that the order was an unconstitutional restriction on their First Amendment rights.  In an earlier decision, the federal district court granted plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, barring enforcement of the order.
Continue Reading Denver Courthouse Case Continued: Plaintiffs Lack Standing


The Hitching Post in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  

In an opinion issued last week, a federal district court in Idaho found that a wedding services business, Hitching Post, which refused to officiate same-sex marriages on religious grounds, did not have standing to challenge an ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Continue Reading Wedding Business Loses First Amendment Challenge to Local Antidiscrimination Law