A federal judge wasn't planning on considering Occupy Boise until a scheduled June 7 hearing on whether the encampment in front of the Old Ada County Courthouse constitutes free speech. But the State of Idaho wants Judge B. Lynn Winmill to take up the Occupy issue sooner, because of what it calls damage to the property.
The Idaho Attorney General's Office filed a motion in federal court, asking Winmill to modify a preliminary ruling from February, so that the Occupy tents can be temporarily removed to fix damage caused by the nearly six-month operation. State officials say it's also time for them to begin spring maintenance, including weekly mowing.
In February, Winmill ruled that Occupiers could not sleep or cook on the grounds, but the tents could be construed as an expression of speech and were protected by the First Amendment. He ordered attorneys representing the movement and the state to return to his court in June for further arguments.
Meanwhile, the Department of Administration is expected to begin a process of crafting new rules governing the use of Capitol Mall properties, granted in a last-minute bill pushed through last week by the Idaho Legislature before it adjourned for the year. Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna has 30 days to propose new rules. They must then be formally published so that the public may offer input before going into effect.