Redding library dispute may go to court; 2 groups threaten to sue over free speech
by Scott Mobley
January 28, 2011 | Record Searchlight
Two groups are threatening to sue the city of Redding if it goes ahead with a proposed policy that restricts speech outside the main public library.
The North State Tea Party Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California have called the city’s effort to regulate leafleting, pamphleteering and other literature distribution around the library entrance unconstitutional.
Redding officials and civil libertarians clash on whether the city has any right to restrict pamphleteers outside the library who are not purposefully interfering with patrons.
The city wants people handing out literature to sit behind a 30-square-foot table in no more than six chairs on the far left side of the entrance. Patrons interested in picking up a pamphlet or leaflet can venture to the table.
The city also wants pamphleteers to reserve table space at least 72 hours before setting up there. Library staff members may approve shorter-term requests.
Civil libertarians have said the city cannot legally limit pamphleteers to a table. People passing out literature should be able to walk up to anyone going in or out of the library and leave leaflets on windshields in the parking lot.
This is an interesting topic. My first thought is that everyone has the right to say what they want to. We also have the right to decide whether or not we want to listen to what others are saying. After thinking about it, though, I wonder what patrons would think about people handing out pamphets/discussing the information as they come in the door. Would it be an annoyance? Is it up to the patrons to decide?