ACLU of Nebraska Statement on Divided Decision in Ball v. City of Lincoln
LINCOLN, Neb – Today the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling upholding SMG’s restrictive speech policy surrounding the City of Lincoln’s publicly-owned Pinnacle Bank Arena. The ACLU of Nebraska represented the First Amendment rights of Lincoln resident Larry Ball, a now 80-year-old Navy Veteran, who was handcuffed, jailed, ticketed and fined for peacefully distributing homemade religious fliers outside of the Pinnacle Bank Arena during sporting events and concerts. ACLU of Nebraska was joined by co-counsel Tom White of the firm White & Jorgensen.
Statement from Danielle Conrad, Executive Director
“We are disappointed by the decision rendered by a spilt Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals today. We will take time to carefully review the opinion and consult with our client, co-counsel and other First Amendment experts as we explore next steps. The Court did find that our client Larry Ball, a now 80-year-old Navy Veteran, was at all times “peaceful and respectful” while distributing his religious pamphlets.
“We continue to be concerned about free speech outside of the arena because the policy that exists today is confusing and not applied uniformly. As a result, our client and others involved in peaceful expressive free speech activities near the city-owned Pinnacle Bank Arena are at risk of criminal prosecution. We renew our sincere and repeated pleas to Mayor Chris Beutler and the Lincoln City Council to demonstrate authentic leadership and work with us to revise the existing arena policy. An excellent example already exists in the policy utilized to govern similar activities around Memorial Stadium. This approach would bring closure to this case and ensure clarity for Lincoln residents. Revising this controversial policy would also demonstrate a commitment from the City of Lincoln to stop spending precious taxpayer dollars enforcing criminal sanctions that have real and chilling effects on free speech and religious freedom rights.”
Statement from Larry Ball
“As far as I am concerned, the outcome of this will be in accord with the purposes of the Lord God. His will will be done. This will be to my overall benefit in maturing me. I do believe that this ruling is wrong and that the overall outcome may continue in error. But, the Lord will have a purpose for allowing this.”
More information, a link to the decision, can be found online here: https://www.aclunebraska.org/en/cases/ball-v-city-lincoln
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.