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NYC Ban on Protests Was Sued By Pam Geller Now NYCLU Case Dismissed Without Prejudice

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 20 –   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, 2020 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. That challenged was by Pamela Gellar.

On May 22, Linda Bouferguen similarly sued, represented by the NYCLU. But when SDNY Judge John G. Koeltl heard the case, the State's and City's lawyers said that Governor Cuomo was about to sign an Executive Order allow gatherings of up to 10 people.

  Now on November 20, Judge Koeltl held another proceeding in the case. While the argument was made that with COVID rates growing again this is a problem that is likely to be repeated, Judge Koeltl after argument declared the matter moot; he also addressed the 11th Amendment. He granted the motion to dismiss - without prejudice.

So the relief requested was moot. NYCLU's Christopher T. Dunn thanked Judge Koeltl. Meanwhile on 42nd Street in Manhattan, the United Nations says it can throw out any journalist it doesn't like, and nothing this time from the NYCLU. What gives? Inner City Press will have more on this. This case is Bouferguen v. Cuomo, et al., 20-cv-3975 (Koeltl).

 Last week, the restriction was challenged 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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