Thursday, May 24, 2007

Christian Protester May Not Demonstrate On Handicap Access Ramp

After holding earlier this month that plaintiff’s case was a thin one, a Pennsylvania federal district court has now refused to grant a preliminary injunction to a Christian pro-life advocate who claimed that his free speech, freedom of assembly and free exercise rights were violated when a police officer threatened to arrest him if he insisted on protesting on the handicap access ramp that led into a Planned Parenthood clinic. In McTernan v. City of York, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36907 (MD PA, May 21, 2007), the court held that the handicap access ramp is not a public forum. Instead, like the Post Office sidewalk at issue in the Supreme Court case of United States v. Kokinda, it is a non-public forum, and the police order was reasonable since demonstrators would have impeded the required accessibility the ramp was to offer.