This post was authored by Otten Johnson summer associate Chelsea Marx. Chelsea is a rising third-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
Just in time for summer, the federal district court in Maryland has determined that the show must go on for a group of performance artists challenging an ordinance restricting public performance on the Ocean City boardwalk. In Christ v. Ocean City, which we first reported on last year, a federal district judge concluded that Chapter 62, a new ordinance limiting performance to designated spaces at designated times, was mostly unconstitutional.
The Ocean City Boardwalk Task Force hoped Chapter 62 would survive scrutiny after a lengthy history of successful First Amendment challenges to prior regulations of speech on the boardwalk. The Mayor and City Council charged the five-member Boardwalk Task Force to draft a new ordinance addressing the “issues that had plagued the Boardwalk” with respect to public safety, traffic congestion, and managing competing uses for limited space. A cast of eleven street performers, including a puppeteer, stick balloon artist, magician, mime, portrait sketch artist, and musician, filed suit asserting that Chapter 62 violated the First Amendment.