Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee, including Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, an attorney, are grilling ACLU attorney Richie Eppink this morning about constitutional questions with the state’s proposed new Capitol grounds use rules. Under the rules, Eppink said, “Two people gathered for any reason conceivably is an event. Likewise with an exhibit … this is an extremely broad definition of exhibit … that as far as I understand it would include a single person with a sign, or even a single person with a T-shirt … or button.”
Under questioning from Davis, Eppink said the constitutional problem is not with the definitions themselves, but how the definitions then are treated in restrictions, including on hours and locations. The question is how far the restrictions go, he said, and whether they meet the government’s “extraordinary” burden on restricting the rights to free speech and assembly. Eppink said the limits on durations of events and exhibits in the rules “crosses the line already.” He said, “The state’s interest, particularly in public open spaces of the kind we have around the Capitol and on the Capitol Mall, has generally been limited to regulating competing uses.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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