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Black v. Arthur

Citation: 30 ELR 20338
No. Nos. 98-36044, -36046, 201 F.3d 1120/(9th Cir., 02/09/2000)

The court holds that a U.S. Forest Service regulation governing special use permits for gatherings of 75 people or more does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The court first holds that the regulation constitutes neither a facially invalid prior restraint nor a facially invalid time, place, or manner restriction. The Forest Service promulgated an interpretive rule that enforces a self-imposed limit on the Forest Service's previously unbridled discretion in attaching terms and conditions to permits. The court also holds that the regulation should not be subjected to strict scrutiny. It is a generally worded, facially neutral permit regulation applicable to all groups of 75 or more people, whether the activity at issue is speech or not. The court additionally holds that the requirement that the permit be signed by a member of the group does not render the regulation unconstitutional. The regulation does not give the Forest Service a vague and undefined power to impose "unexplained blanket liability" on the group. To the contrary, the group liability imposed for permit violations is strictly confined to the permit's revocation or suspension. Moreover, the individual who signs the permit will not be subject to individual liability.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Reed Lee
J.D. Obenberger & Associates
155 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60601

Counsel for Defendants
Howard S. Scher
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Aldisert1 and Kleinfeld, JJ.