Hamptons Legal – The Daily Detail

News, Service & Small Practice Management

Is the Constitution Dead in Southampton?

Posted by pbsweeney on November 25, 2006

Last week’s Southampton Press carried a front page story that proudly announced that the Village would adopt a resolution to permit groups involved as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the Village, to march in future Fourth of July parades without issue. The suit came about because various local groups opposed to the war in Iraq had not been issued permits to march in the 2006 parade. The committee that runs the parade for the Village had decided that peace banners were inappropriate to the spirit of the day, a puzzling decision for a celebration of our independence and constitutionally provided freedoms.

The groups, with the help of attorney Jim Henry of Sag Harbor, rushed to the courthouse at the end of the day on the Friday before the parade and managed to get a federal judge to consider that the issue was serious enough to open the court for a special session on July third. After a hastily convened teleconference between the parties, the judge issued an order that basically reaffirmed the groups’ constitutional rights, permitting them to march with their banners in the parade. What a concept!

The lawsuit continues. In an end run move, the Village has adopted the above-mentioned resolution, but in doing so has once again attempted to define who may participate in the parade and with what kind of speech. The guarantee of free speech and participation only applies to the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, not to the rest of us, thus creating a special class of people with a pre-determined “privilege” to a constitutional right.

This writer does not get it. How is it that a municipality is able to imagine it may make such a determination? Village officials are concerned that anyone might then find a place in the parade, even neo-nazis for example. They claim that they are just trying to preserve the spirit of a family event. Again, this issue has been ruled upon in the courts ad nauseum. Here’s hoping that the lesson to our children on Independence Day will be one of true citizenship with constitutionally guaranteed rights for all, not just those whom the Village of Southampton deems appropriate and deserving.

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One Response to “Is the Constitution Dead in Southampton?”

  1. irving said

    When one person’s rights are denied, we all suffer a loss of freedom. Thank you for posting this. What is Southampton thinking? There are enough dictatorships in the world that abridge the right of free speech without Southampton adding to the list.

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