Pappas and PJI filed suit Friday on behalf of the Redding-based Bostonian Tea Party, the North State Tea Party Alliance, and local Tea Party official SuAnn Prigmore. The suit alleges that recently enacted library restrictions on distribution of educational materials and related activities violates both the state and federal constitutions.
Ironically, the conflict arose after library officials frowned on the Tea Party’s distribution of the U.S. Constitution and similarly-themed information in the library’s breezeway during Constitution Week last September. Over the next few months, a library committee drafted a new policy designed to limit such activities. Despite objections from attorneys for both conservative and liberal groups, members of the City Council, acting in their dual role as the Library Board of Trustees, voted 4-1 last month to approve the policy.
PJI affiliate attorney Timothy Pappas commented, “Of all places, the library should be encouraging the free flow of information, especially when it promotes patriotism, the Constitution, and good citizenship. The evidence shows that the Tea Party members have acted sensibly and politely, that their educational activities occur away from the quiet reading rooms of the library, and their presence has not created any kind of disturbance. We are pleased with this initial ruling that recognizes the importance of the speech rights at stake.”
The next hearing in the case is set for June 13.