Occupy Boise Wins Landmark Federal Court Ruling

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Occupy Boise, November 2011
  • Occupy Boise, November 2011

Two years after Occupy Boise began pitching its makeshift tent city on the grounds in front of the old Ada County Courthouse and more than a year after the Idaho Department of Administration pushed the protesters away from state property, a federal judge has ruled in favor of the Occupy movement and said that part of Idaho's rules restricting the protest were unconstitutional.

“This is a tremendous win for free speech and protesters’ rights in Idaho,” said Richard Eppink, Legal Director of the ACLU of Idaho. “Thank goodness there were courageous patriots like Occupy Boise willing to stand up for freedom and make sure these onerous provisions were struck down by the courts.”

The decision, from U.S. Judge B. Lynn Winmill declared that the state's attempt to limit protests to no more than seven days was in violation of the U.S. Constitution's protection of free speech.

“A group could occupy state property indefinitely until another group seeks to occupy the same area,” wrote Winmill wrote in the decision.

ACLU of Idaho said the ruling is believed to be the first in the country to decide whether the government can limit the length of time a single group can maintain a continuous protest.

The court left intact the rules that ban chalking, staking on the ground and grounds maintenance. The decision warns the State, however, that the court could decide that these rules could also be unconstitutional if unfairly enforced.