Procedural Victory in Post Office Sidewalks Petitioning Case

On March 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., denied the request of the U.S. Postal Service for summary judgment in Initiative & Referendum Institute v U.S. Postal Service, 10-5337. This does not mean the case has been won. But it does mean that a 3-judge panel will consider the evidence in the case, in the near future. The court today merely issued a one-sentence order, denying the government’s request for summary judgment.

The three judges who signed the order are Karen Henderson (a Bush Sr. appointee), Merrick Garland (a Clinton appointee), and Brett Kavanaugh (a Bush Jr. appointee). Judges Henderson and Garland already participated in this case earlier, when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that postal sidewalks parallel to the street must permit petitioning. At that time, they sent the part of the case about interior sidewalks back to the U.S. District Court Judge. The third judge on the recent panel, Judge Kavanaugh, is new to this case. However, he was part of the 2010 panel that struck down another regulation that outlawed passing out leaflets in all parts of all national parks. That case was Boardley v U.S. Dept. of the Interior.


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Procedural Victory in Post Office Sidewalks Petitioning Case — 1 Comment

  1. “when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that postal sidewalks parallel to the street must permit petitioning. At that time, they sent the part of the case about interior sidewalks back to the U.S. District Court Judge.”

    This case is extremely important to the cause of ballot access. Anyone gathering signatures on petitions of any kind needs to have places where they can go to ask people to sign their petitions. If you can’t speak to the public then you can’t get any signatures. In most states it is very difficult to find places why you can ask people to sign petitions without getting kicked out. Under the current ruling, people can gather petition signatures at Post Office ONLY if the Post Office in question has an entranace and/or exit that is DIRECTLY off of a city sidewalk. If there is a parking lot seperating the city sidewalk from the door to the Post Office then it is officially off limits for petition signature gathering (as in the part of the Post Office where the people walk by is off limits to petitioners). This means that around 90-95% of Post Offices are off limits for petitioning since there are very few Post Offices that have doors which are directly off of city sidewalks.

    It is crucial that this ruling comes down in our favor. This case has been dragging on for over 10 years and this has really been a hinderance to ballot access. If our side prevails in this case then it will open up a lot of locations for petition signature gathering. Every town has at least one Post Office, so if we win this case it will mean that there will be at least one place to gather petition signatures in every town in this country.

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