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NYC Ban on Gatherings and Protests Was Sued By Pam Geller Now Cuomo Moves 12(b)(6)

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 15 --  New York City's banning of  "any non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason," imposed by an Executive Order in March but reiterated by Mayor Bill De Blasio on May 4, was challenged in a hearing on May 15 before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Denise L. Cote.

Inner City Press live-tweeted it, here and below.

 By June 17, Plaintiff Pamela Geller filed another case, assigned to SDNY Judge Ramos.

 On January 5, Judge Ramos held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it, including tweeting:

Governor Cuomo's lawyers are arguing that Pamela Geller's still surviving lawsuit against Executive Order(s) on protests should be dismissed. Lawyer for  NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio  is taking a slightly different position.

Judge Ramos: The best route would be to allow the defendants to move pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). My view is, I don't see how discovery will not be necessary. City and State have 3 week to file motion, plaintiff 3 weeks to respond, defendants 1 week to reply.

 Gov Cuomo's lawyer: So plaintiff can't make a cross motion for summary judgment, right? Judge Ramos: Correct. We are adjourned

  The dates: Motion under 12(b)(6) by January 26. The case is Geller v. Cuomo, et al., 20-cv-4653 (Ramos).

 The restrictions were challenged in May by Pam Geller, represented by the American Freedom Law Center's David Yerushalmi.

 His complaint noted that "De Blasio has implemented an Open Streets initiative whereby certain City streets are open to pedestrians and cyclists" - but closed for First Amendment protest." 

  In the May 15 oral argument, Yerushalmi cited three Circuit decisions granting a TRO against COVID-19 lockdowns and offered to discuss them. 

   Judge Cote said, No, the matter is fully submitted and ready for my decision. I'm not sure the City needs to say anything. 

  But the lawyer for New York City said, People are not allowed to do sports on streets either -- only "solo exercising."

    Judge Cote ruled, Having reviewed the parties' submissions and the arguments, I am going to deny the May 12 motion for a TRO. Given the length of time between the March 25 Executive Order and this application, urgency is lacking. 

  In the docket, Geller's declaration said "I quickly realized that no blog or podcast or radio interview would gain any media traction in today's environment. The only viable means... would be a public protest."  

Judge Cote noted, THe Plaintiff cites allegedly anti-Semitic remarks by the Mayor... The First Amendment is not absolute. NYC is an epicenter of Covid-19, and "the March 25 order is content neutral." 

   Yerushalmi said he will appeal. Inner City Press aims to continue to follow this case, which is Geller v. De Blasio, et al., 20-cv-3566 (Cote). 


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