Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Permits No Longer Required for Expression in Parks

Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has suspended a rule requiring individuals to have permits before the “expression of views” or distribution of literature in state parks.

The suspension was in response to a request from the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU), which recently received several complaints on the subject.

ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak says over the past two weeks, DCNR rangers stopped two Green Party candidates for U.S. Congress from getting petition signatures in Point State Park. He says rangers prevented another man from making balloon art.

Point State Park is the only park in which this is an issue; Walczak says that’s because almost nobody passes out literature in rural parks.

Walczak says the ACLU had been dealing with the Pittsburgh Police on this issue, but when DCNR informed them of the regulation they asked them to stop requiring permits.

“It makes sense to do for a large demonstration that may result in blocking traffic. Then, yes, you can have a permit system, but you can’t have it for what the courts often call ‘the lone pamphleteer.’”

Although the law hasn’t been formally repealed yet, DCNR has stopped enforcing it.

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