Sunday, August 02, 2020

Limits On Street Preacher At Farmers Market Are Upheld

In Denton v. City of El Paso, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135896 (WD TX, July 28, 2020), a Texas federal district court rejected free speech, free exercise and other challenges to a policy that prevents plaintiff, a street preacher, from proselytizing at the El Paso Art and Farmers Market. The city bars fundraising, political campaigning or religious proselytizing at the event. It also requires non-profits to distribute information only from designated booth space and bars organizations from approaching or shouting to those passing by.

The court said in part:
[C]onsidering the evidence in the record thus far, Plaintiff has not carried his burden to demonstrate a clear likelihood that the City's policy is content based. Instead, the evidence strongly suggests that the policy is content neutral.
...Because the City seeks to preserve the Market as a space for its visitors to converse with each other and local artisans and enjoy buskers' performances, it has a substantial interest in eliminating disruptive noise....
Moreover, the City also asserts a related economic interest in promoting vendors' ability to sell their wares without "having to shout over someone"...