Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rastafarian Minister Loses Fight To Solicit Ballot Signatures At Revenue Office

In Brown v. Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, (WD AR, April 8, 2016), an Arkansas federal district court dismissed an action by Rev. Tom Brown, a Rastafarian minister, challenging a recent no-solicitation policy imposed by the state at certain Revenue Offices. For over a year Brown had stationed himself at a table on the lawn of the Fayetteville Revenue Office seeking signatures for a ballot initiative on the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.  A number of patrons had filed police reports complaining of Brown's behavior. The court held that the solicitation ban is a reasonable restriction on speech in a non-public forum, saying in part:
As the ban is reasonably designed to promote the normal business activities of the State’s revenue offices and is viewpoint-neutral, the Court finds that the ban does not violate Rev. Brown’s constitutional rights. The ban does not prevent Rev. Brown from canvassing in other public forums, such as on city sidewalks, in plazas, or in parks. Similarly, Rev. Brown is still free to express to others his ideas about marijuana use, his religious faith, and the benefits of signing the ballot initiative he supports.