The New York Civil Liberties Union directly brought suit, directly defended an action, or participated as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in 34 First Amendment cases involving the Giuliani Administration. Of the 23 cases in which the NYCLU was directly involved, it prevailed (by court order or settlement) in 19 cases. In the 11 cases in which the NYCLU participated as amicus curiae, its position prevailed in seven of 10 cases (with one case being resolved without the First Amendment issue being reached). The details of the 34 cases are set out below.
Housing Works v. Safir - Challenged the constitutionality of various policies limiting the size of demonstrations at City Hall or barring them entirely while excepting from limits events approved by the Mayor (such as rallies for the New York Yankees). The federal court issued preliminary injunctions against policies in July 1998 and November 1998 and a permanent injunction in April 2000, which the City did not appeal.
United Yellow Cab Drivers v. Safir - Challenged constitutionality of Giuliani Administration's effort to limit to 20 yellow cabs a demonstration scheduled to cross the 59th Street Bridge and proceed through midtown down to City Hall to protest changes to rules governing drivers of yellow cabs. The federal court held in May 1998 that the limitation violated the First Amendment and ordered the City to allow a procession of up to 250 cars. The City sought but ultimately was denied a stay, though the plaintiffs agreed to conduct a smaller procession, which then took place without incident. Following a trial on damages, the federal District Court in March 2002 ruled that the City had stopped the procession in retaliation for a legal strike by the cabdrivers and ordered the City to pay damages to the plaintiffs.
Martens v. Giuliani - Challenged NYPD policy of holding in jail for arraignment (and thus usually overnight) any person charged with a minor offense if the alleged offense occurred at a demonstration. Shortly after the NYCLU filed suit in May 2001, the Police Department rescinded the policy.
Walton v. Safir - Challenged April 1999 dismissal from NYPD of African-American police officer who, in aftermath of shooting of Amadou Diallo by four white members of the NYPD’s Street Crime Unit, spoke out about racial profiling by unit. Federal District Court ruled in November 2000 that NYPD had dismissed officer in retaliation for her public statements and in July 2001 ordered officer reinstated to NYPD employment. In November 2002 the City agreed to waive its appeal and settle the case by permitting Yvette Walton to be reinstated so that she could retire and by paying her substantial damages.
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church v. City of New York - Challenged constitutionality of NYPD efforts to arrest homeless persons who were sleeping on private property of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church with permission of Church, which allowed such use of its property as part of Church’s religious work to help the homeless. In December 2001 and January 2002 the federal District Court issued orders barring NYPD from entering Church property to disperse homeless persons. The City’s appeal was unsuccessful.
Harman v. City of New York - Challenged constitutionality of City executive orders that required child-welfare employees who wished to speak to the press about non-confidential child welfare matters first to notify and obtain the city’s consent. In March 1998 the federal and Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s ruling that the executive orders violated First Amendment and struck them down. The City then sought review by the Supreme Court of the United States, but it filed its petition too late.
Latino Officers Association v. Safir - Challenged the constitutionality of an NYPD policy that requires police officers who wish to make public statements about non-confidential police practices and policies first to notify the NYPD about intended statements, to obtain the Police Commissioner’s permission to make statements, and to report back to the Department about the substance of public statements. In July 1997 the federal District Court held that the policy violated First Amendment and preliminarily enjoined the NYPD from enforcing it. The City then abandoned the policy’s consent requirement but appealed the ruling about the notice and reporting provisions, and the Court of Appeals in March 1999 vacated the District Court’s order on these provisions and sent the case back for a trial. Trial was held in November 1999, and in September 2001 the District Court ruled that the notice and reporting provisions violated the First Amendment, a ruling that the City did not appeal.
Latino Officers Association v. City of New York - Challenged constitutionality of NYPD’s refusal to afford NYPD recognition to organization of Latino police officers who had spoken publicly and critically of discrimination and misconduct by the NYPD. In June 1999 the NYCLU obtained a preliminary injunction ordering the Police Department to allow the LOA to march in NYPD uniforms in public parades (a standard benefit of recognition), and the Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling in November 1999. After the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case and a trial then took place in the spring of 2000, the NYPD agreed to afford recognition to the group and to pay them damages to settle the case.
Locurto v. Giuliani - Challenged September 1998 NYPD dismissal of police officer who participated in racially controversial Labor Day parade while off-duty and out of uniform. In April 2000 the District Court ordered that the case go to trial, and the City appealed to the Court of Appeals. In August 2001 the Court of Appeals dismissed the City’s appeal of the First Amendment claim and returned the case to the District Court for trial. Following trial, the District Court ruled that Mayor Giuliani had unlawfully ordered the dismissal of Officer Locurto, but the Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and dismissed the case.
Hickerson v. City of New York - Challenged constitutionality of New York City’s Adult Entertainment Establishment Zoning Law on behalf of customers of adult entertainment establishments alleging that the zoning ordinance interfered with their rights as recipients of constitutionally protected, sexually explicit, expression. Federal and state courts held that enactment did not violate the Constitution.
Metropolitan Council v. Safir - Challenged the constitutionality of Giuliani Administration’s refusal to allow protestors to sleep on public sidewalk across from Gracie Mansion as part of protest vigil regarding proposed rent increases. Federal District Court held in June 2000 that policy violated the First Amendment.
Church of the American Knights of the Klu Klux Klan v. Safir - Challenges the constitutionality of New York City’s denial of a rally permit because members of the KKK wanted to wear masks at a public rally. The District Court held that the denial violated the First Amendment, but the federal Court of Appeals issued an order staying the injunction, and the rally took place without the Klan members wearing masks. In November 2002 the District Court ruled that the anti-mask law was unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. The City appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and upheld the statute.
Transportation Alternatives v. City of New York - Challenges regulations promulgated by the Parks Department in April 2001 that authorize the Department to charge fees of up to $100,000 for groups to use public parks for certain First Amendment events. In August 2002 the federal District Court found the fee scheme to be unconstitutional and ordered the City to stop using it. The City appealed, but the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding the fee scheme unconstitutional.
Tunick v. Safir - Challenged the City’s refusal to allow an internationally acclaimed photographer to photograph a group of nude models on a public street. In July 1999 the federal District Court held that the refusal violated the First Amendment. The City obtained a stay from the Court of Appeals, but the court subsequently affirmed the District Court ruling, and the photo shoot took place in June 2000.
Kalke v. City of New York - Challenged application of Parks Department policy to bar church operating HIV/AIDS peer-education programs in the South Bronx from distributing condoms in a New York City park. The courts held application of policy to such activity violated the First Amendment.
Housing Works v. Kerik - Challenges City policy that prohibits the use of amplified sound at rallies or demonstrations in the plaza of City Hall except at those events held in conjunction with City sponsored ticker-tape parades. In November 2000 the federal District Court held that the policy violated the First Amendment. The City has appealed, and in March 2002 the Court of Appeals ruled that the sound-amplification policy was permissible.
International Action Center v. Safir - Challenged constitutionality of Giuliani Administration policy, prompted by desire to force controversial group from Times Square, of prohibiting use of amplified sound at demonstrations and other events in Times Square. Shortly after the NYCLU filed suit in August 1998, the City rescinded the policy.
Universal Church of Practical Knowledge v. Giuliani - Challenged the constitutionality of November 1998 actions by NYPD in revoking sound permits from Hebrew Israelites (commonly referred to as “Black Israelites”) who have long preached in Times Square and threatening them with arrest if they continued to try to preach in the area. Case settled in June 1999 when City agreed to pay $54,000 to Israelites in damages and agreed not to take any related actions against Israelites -- including revocations of permits, confiscation of property, or threat of arrest -- without first consulting with NYCLU.
Hunter v. City of New York - Challenges January 2001 arrest of Staten Island resident who wrote racially controversial letter to Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari and that attached copies of three photographs of lynchings depicted in a recently published historical study of lynchings in the United States. Case settled with City agreeing to pay substantial damages to Terence Hunter.
NYCLU v. Safir - Challenged in New York State Supreme Court the denial of a Freedom of Information Request for information concerning July 4, 1995 police operation in South Ozone Park, Queens. The NYPD settled this case by providing the NYCLU with much of the information requested.
People v. Lyons; People v. Sanchez; People v. Schenk - Challenged constitutionality of summonses issued to members of Socialist Workers Party who were collecting ballot signatures in public park. Bronx County Criminal Court held that the summonses violated the First Amendment, dismissed the summonses, and ordered the Police Property Clerk to return literature seized by the NYPD.
People v. Goga - Challenged the arrest of a taxicab driver who tried to participated in a May 1998 taxi demonstration. After a jury trial in April 1999, the driver was acquitted of all charges.
People v. Henes - Challenged criminal trespass summonses issued to 20 people who assembled on a public beach in Staten Island to celebrate the 1998 winter solstice. All the charges were dismissed, with the Criminal Court Judge writing “Commemoration of this occasion [winter solstice] for religious, historical or education purposes is to be commended not sanctioned.”
The Brooklyn Museum of Arts and Sciences v. The City of New York and Mayor Giuliani- Provided amicus curiae support to a challenge to the constitutionality of the Mayor’s attempt to penalize the Brooklyn Museum for exhibiting artwork (“Sensation” exhibit) that, according to the Mayor, conveyed offensive ideas and viewpoints. The federal District Court ruled that the City’s actions violated the First Amendment. While an appeal was pending, the City settled the case in April 2000 by agreeing to pay a substantial sum of money to the Museum and to withdraw its effort to evict the Museum from its building.
Million Youth March v. Safir (Million Youth March I) - Provided amicus curiae support in a challenge directed at the City's denial of a permit for a rally on Malcolm X Boulevard between 118th and 147th streets on September 5, 1998. On August 26, 1998, the federal District Court ruled that denial of the permit violated the First Amendment, and the federal Court of Appeals denied the City’s motion for an emergency stay, though it posed certain limits on the size and duration of the event. The event then took place but was marred by violence when the NYPD forcibly moved to halt the event.
Million Youth March v. Safir (Million Youth March II) - Provided amicus curiae support in challenge to City’s refusal to permit controversial public rally to take place on 1999 Labor Day weekend. Unlike the 1998 controversy, where the dispute was about the size and location of the rally, the City’s in 1999 was that no rally could take place at all. In August 1998 the federal District Court ruled that the City’s refusal violated the First Amendment, and the Court of Appeals denied the City’s motion for an emergency stay. The event then took place without incident.
New York Magazine v. City of New York - Provided amicus curiae support for New York Magazine’s challenge to a MTA decision to refuse to permit New York Magazine to advertise its magazine on city buses with an ad that satirized the Mayor. The federal courts found in favor of New York Magazine.
Bery v. City of New York - Provided amicus curiae support to a challenge directed at the City's regulation prohibiting visual artists from exhibiting or selling their work at public places without a special vendor's license. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declared the regulation to be in violation of the First Amendment.
Metropolitan Opera Association v. Local 100 - Provided amicus curiae support to appeal of an injunction entered by District Court preventing union from engaging in range of expressive activity as part of labor campaign targeting Lincoln Center. The federal Court of Appeals reversed the District Court and vacated the injunction.
Time Warner Cable of New York v. City of New York - Provided amicus curiae support for Time Warner Cable of New York City’s challenge to the attempt by the Giuliani Administration to place the Fox News Network and the Bloomberg News Service on channels that had been established for municipal programming by the City. The federal courts found in favor of Time Warner.
Green v. Safir - Provided amicus curiae support to challenge by Public Advocate after for the Police Commissioner refused to provide the Public Advocate with documents on the conduct of the New York City Civilian Complaint Board. The New York State courts found in favor of the Public Advocate.
New York City Transit Authority v. Hall and New York City v. Hall - Provided amicus curiae support to challenge to the constitutionality of an order enjoining union members and others from speaking freely about possible strike by public employees. After initial proceeding in which the order was upheld and the issue of the strike was resolved, the Kings County State Supreme Court dismissed the case as moot in January 2000.
Pappas v. Giuliani - Provided amicus curiae support in appeal of federal District Court decision rejecting challenge to dismissal of NYPD officer for mailing racially controversial material from his home. In May 2002 the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court ruling and held that Thomas Pappas could be dismissed.
Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union, Local 100 v. City of New York - Provided amicus curiae support in appeal of federal District Court decision holding that City could bar political activity from plaza of Lincoln Center. In November 2002 the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court ruling and held that political activity could be banned from the plaza area.