By Katie Kieffer
A Coon Rapids, Minn. man named Michael Boardley won big last week. He succeeded expanding free speech in national parks for all Americans. In Michael Boardley v. Department of Interior, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit determined that Americans do not need permits in order to ‘demonstrate, distribute brochures or engage in other “expressive” activities in parks,’ reports the Los Angeles Times.
The appellate court’s decision is worthy of celebration given the scrutiny that the current administration is giving to free speech. Remember when I told you about the FCC bubble wrapping the internet? Politicians clamping down on Facebook? Comedy Central micromanaging South Park? Today, it is my pleasure to report a positive story about free speech.
In 2007, Boardley had significant difficulty obtaining a permit to distribute Christian literature in South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore National Park. He tenaciously pursued a legal challenge to the inconsistency and difficulty in the permitting process.
Boardley argued that, “Yosemite … required speech permit applications to be submitted at least 10 days in advance, while Yellowstone National Park requested applications several months in advance,” reports McClatchy Newspapers.” Last Friday, the three-panel court ruled in favor of Beardsley by determining that the national park system’s permitting requirement violated the First Amendment.
Judge Janice Rogers Brown explained the court’s decision with ‘several hypothetical examples, including a Girl Scout leader who musters her scouts at Glacier National Park in Montana and “proceeds to lecture them about the effects of global warming.” This could be construed as a “gathering” that needs a permit, Brown reasoned.’
“It is offensive, not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society, that . . . a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit,” Brown noted, citing an earlier Supreme Court ruling,’ reports McClatchy Newspapers.
This case illustrates the power of tenacious citizens to defend the Constitutional rights of all Americans. Boardley’s persistence and logical reasoning paid yielded a big win for expanding and preserving free speech in America.