Last week, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Vallejo, California’s requirement that a person obtain a permit before using a sound amplification is likely unconstitutional. The court’s decision reverses the district court’s order denying the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction, and allows the case to proceed to additional stages of litigation.
Joseph Cuviello is an animal rights activist in Vallejo who wished to protest alleged animal mistreatment at Six Flags Discovery Park, an amusement park. Cuviello has been active in protesting Six Flags since 2006. In 2014, Cuviello decided to begin protesting on a public sidewalk outside of the park, using a bullhorn. Vallejo, however, requires a permit for the use of sound amplification devices, and the city imposes restrictions on the use of such devices. Cuviello filed suit against the city, challenging the permit requirement as an unconstitutional prior restraint, and the ordinance as impermissibly vague and content based. Cuviello eventually abandoned the latter arguments, and the court’s decision focused entirely on the prior restraint question.