On April 24, 2007, non-profit public interest corporations and a regional network of peace and social justice groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the Miami-Dade ...
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On April 24, 2007, non-profit public interest corporations and a regional network of peace and social justice groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the Miami-Dade County and the Miami-Dade College. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. They alleged that the local ordinance that employed a permit scheme for expressive activities in public fora was subject to arbitrary enforcement, and that the loitering ordinance was unconstitutionally vague, in violation of their rights to free expression under the First Amendment.
The plaintiffs intended to hold an anti-war demonstration near the campus entrance during a commencement address by the then president at Miami-Dade College on April 28, 2007. The County's permit scheme required the plaintiffs to obtain a lane closure permit for their proposed parade route and rally, but the County refused to accommodate them. Without a permit, the participants of the parade would be forced to crowd onto the sidewalks, which would likely violate the County's loitering ordinance. The plaintiffs feared that the County would penalize their members and shut down the parade. Feeling that their freedom of speech was infringed, the plaintiffs challenged the permit and loitering ordinances.
The parties reached an agreement regarding the April 28 demonstration after the initial complaint was filed. The plaintiffs agreed to march and rally on designated sidewalks and grassy areas, and the defendant agreed not to enforce the loitering ordinance against the plaintiffs during the protest. Given the agreement, on April 26, 2007, the District Court (Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga) denied the plaintiffs' emergency motion for a preliminary injunction. The April 28 demonstration was able to proceed.
On May 11, 2007, the plaintiffs stipulated to voluntarily dismiss the case against the Miami-Dade College. The Court granted the stipulation on the same day. The Miami-Dade County remained as the only defendant in this case. On September 14, 2007, the plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint.
On June 4, 2008, the Court granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and issued a permanent injunction banning the County's future enforcement of the permit and loitering ordinances. The Court further ordered the parties to schedule a mediation regarding compensatory damages and attorneys' fees. In the opinion, Judge Altonaga found that the permit ordinance was constitutionally overbroad due to the unlimited discretion provided to the County officials and the lack of procedural safeguards. In addition, the Court declared the loitering ordinance unconstitutionally vague, because the ordinance failed to provide people with fair notice and encouraged arbitrary enforcement.
On August 20, 2008, the parties stipulated a settlement agreement, in which the County agreed to pay the plaintiffs compensatory damages and attorneys' fees. The Court consented to the stipulation in its August 22 Final Judgment. This ended the case. Emma Bao - 06/18/2013