Appeals Court Nixes Permits for Free Speech in National Parks

August 11, 2010

A federal appeals court has ruled that the National Park Service is violating the First Amendment with its current rules requiring permits for demonstrations, gatherings, and public "expressions of views" on National Park System lands.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit did not strike down all NPS permitting of such speech — but rather ruled that current NPS criteria were unconstitutionally broad because they limited speech even when it did not impact the parks in any way.

The decision "stemmed from a 2007 case in which a Minnesota man, Michael Boardley, and some associates tried to distribute pamphlets 'discussing the Gospel of Jesus Christ' at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota," according to a story by Kurt Repanshek in the National Parks Traveler.