Marijuana Legalization Group Sues for Right to Rally

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
June 9, 2016 12:45 pm

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Indianapolis – The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed suit today on behalf of a group that advocates for the legalization of marijuana that requested and was denied permission to hold a rally on the grounds of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse in Lafayette. The lawsuit claims that government officials’ denial of the group’s request is a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit against Tippecanoe County was brought on behalf of Higher Society of Indiana, Inc., an organization that advocates and rallies for the legalization of marijuana. In May, Higher Society held a rally on courthouse property, but has now been denied access to the public space because of a “closed forum” policy that allows county commissioners individually and as a whole to determine which favored groups have access and which do not. The Tippecanoe County Courthouse has been the site of a number of events and rallies, from an annual art fair to a rally for Planned Parenthood. The lawsuit seeks to stop enforcement of the policy.

“The First Amendment simply denies government the power to pick and choose which groups it allows to gather on public property,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. “You cannot suppress some speech without putting all speech at risk.”

David Phipps, co-executive director of the organization, said “Higher Society of Indiana was saddened, to hear of this rule put in place by Tippecanoe county officials. We believe this rule requiring “commissioner sponsorship” in order to assemble on courthouse grounds is a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. The only thing this rule accomplishes is the censorship of the American people. It prevents any group the county does not approve of from speaking out and practicing their right to assemble. That being said, our organization still has faith that justice will prevail. Not just for this organization, but for every Hoosier that wishes to freely practice the rights given to us all.”

The case, Higher Society of Indiana, Inc. v. Tippecanoe County, Case 4:16-cv-00043, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division at Lafayette, on June 9, 2016.

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