Monday, March 23, 2009

In Jews for Jesus Challenge, Revised Oyster Bay Permit Rules Held Invalid

In People v. Mendelson, (NY Nassau Co. Dist. Ct., March 19, 2009), a New York state trial court dismissed criminal charges brought against a "Jews for Jesus" missionary for distributing literature at a concert in an Oyster Bay (NY) park without obtaining a permit. She refused to accept a permit that would limit her to a fixed table, and insisted on circulating among concertgoers to speak with them. The court held that the town's revised permit requirements (see prior posting), drafted in response to the invalidation of the town's earlier rules (see prior posting), are unconstitutional. The court found the regulations overly broad because, on their face, they are not limited to demonstrations and activities during special events, "but apply to any person, at any time, anywhere in a Town Park or recreational facility." The court said that if the regulations are amended to apply only to special event and demonstration days, they would be upheld. It refused however to accept as sufficient representations by the town's Parks Commissioner that the broadly drafted regulations would in fact be applied only in those circumstances. A release by Alliance Defense Fund discusses the decision.