An interesting development in the question of the constitutionality of the permit system currently in use on Venice Boardwalk.
It appears that a previous US District Court case: Berger v. City of Seattle in which “Magic Mike” got the City of Seattle to back down on the permit requirement for street performers at the Seattle Center has recently been overturned by the Ninth Circuit of Appeals Court (scroll down page to Berger v. City of Seattle for Court decision PDF)
For those of us who oppose the permit/lottery on Venice Boardwalk this may come as a disappointing blow to our hopes of retaining our First Amendment right to exercise Free Expression without prior restraint. I believe this trend will now reverberate throughout the cities of this land where valiant souls have been fighting similar permit restrictions, and winning. The problem is, whenever a favorable decision is made in a lower court it can be appealed, as in this case, almost two years later, and have far reaching consequences.
Now, if they ever secretly doubted their “right” to impose a permit restriction on Free Expressionists in the Free Speech Zone, the City of Los Angeles is forever vindicated. The only way this latest decision could be overturned would be in the U.S. Supreme Court where it would stand the proverbial “snowball’s chance in hell” scenario. Nope, I think this is it. The days of “first-come-first-served” spontaneous free expression in the once legendary “Free Speech Zone” on Venice Boardwalk are over — and if you want to point a finger of blame just check out the number of “commercial” vendors who proliferate in what has become a swap-meet jungle in our beloved Free Speech Zone.