ACLU, Genesee County Parks Finalize Settlement in Petitioning Lawsuit

October 05, 2011

DETROIT – A federal judge signed a final order late yesterday afternoon permanently barring Genesee County Parks from enforcing a rule that prohibited volunteers from the Committee to Recall Governor Snyder from petitioning anywhere in a 135-acre park except an isolated, 3-foot by 3-foot square. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced a Know Your Petitioning Rights resource guide today to help clarify the rights and responsibilities of individuals and city officials.

The consent judgment, which was signed by Judge George Caram Steeh, also prevents the county from requiring petitioners to obtain a permit before seeking signatures in its parks. In July, the ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of volunteers with the recall effort who were limited to a small “Freedom of Speech Area” in a remote section of Linden County Park to collect signatures. A week after the lawsuit was filed, the ACLU of Michigan and Genesee County Parks officials agreed to a temporary measure to protect the free speech rights of petitioners.

The following statement can be attributed to Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director:

“We commend Genesee County officials for their quick action to ensure that parks do not become Constitution-free zones. Petitioning and speaking out publically on political issues in public parks and on public sidewalks are time-honored traditions that must be safeguarded. Hopefully, government officials throughout the state will follow the lead of Genesee County and remove unconstitutional barriers faced by Michiganders wishing to exercise their fundamental rights.”

Key News and Documents
Know Your Petitioning Rights Guide
Read the Consent Judgment
Read the complaint
ACLU Sues Genesee County Parks Over Petitioning Restrictions
Download an image of the "Freedom of Speech" Area

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