On September 8, U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts upheld a post office regulation that bans petitioning on postal sidewalks if the sidewalks are not parallel to, or not seemingly part of, sidewalks that run along streets. The decision thus upholds the ban on sidewalks that run from the street to the post office. Here is the 30-page decision.
This case was filed in 2000, and Judge Roberts had upheld the ban on all postal sidewalks in 2003. But in 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals had said that sidewalks parallel to streets cannot be closed to petitioning, and had sent the case back for more proceedings on interior sidewalks. Judge Roberts had then suggested that both sides cooperate to do research into the extent to which First Amendment activity is carried out on interior postal sidewalks. That research tended to show that there is just as much such activity on interior postal sidewalks as on postal sidewalks that are parallel to the street. But, in the 2010 opinion that just came out, the decision downplays that research, finding that it is statistically flawed.
One reads the decision, looking for a good reason for the postal regulation, and one doesn’t find such a reason. The Institute and Referendum Institute, and the other plaintiffs, will now appeal again. The case is Initiative & Referendum Institute v U.S. Postal Service, 00-1246.