This case involves the question of whether New York City’s refusal to permit a massive rally in Central Park on the eve of the Republican National Convention and its requirement that the rally take place along the West Side Highway constituted a "reasonable" "time, place and manner" restriction. United for Peace and Justice, a national umbrella organization of groups opposed to policies by the Bush Administration, planned a large rally for the eve of the 2004 Republican Convention. After months of unsuccessful negotiation in an effort to secure Central Park for the location of the rally, the NYCLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit on Aug. 18, 2004. The city said that it would allow the rally to take place only on the West Side Highway, a site that would leave participants as far as three miles away from the rally stage and on the fringe of Manhattan. The lawsuit alleged that the city was unconstitutionally barring large political rallies from Central Park and that the refusal to accommodate the rally at any location other than the West Side Highway was an unconstitutional restriction on the group’s free-speech rights.
On Aug. 25, 2004, the New York State Supreme Court denied the request by United for Peace and Justice to rally in Central Park. The court held that denying UFPJ’s permit application to rally in Central Park did not unnecessarily burden the group’s right to free speech. The court also stated that the city’s offer of West Street on the West Side Highway was an adequate site to hold the numbers of people expected at the rally.
State Supreme Court, New York County, Index No. 111893/04 (direct)