Here's an interesting article I ran across in my internet travels..
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, recipient of the first Lifetime Muzzle Award
Who would have dreamed that the Mayor would object to more publicity?"
? United States District Judge Shira Scheindelin, ruling that New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani?s administration violated the First Amendment by ordering city buses not to display paid ads containing a gentle if critical spoof of the Mayor
Especially since his decisive re-election in 1997, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani views freedom of expression as a special threat to his administration. He has stifled speech and press to so unprecedented a degree, and in so many and varied forms, that simply keeping up with the city?s censorious activity has proved a challenge for defenders of free expression. One such watchdog, the American Civil Liberties Union, has brought no fewer than twelve First Amendment suits against the mayor and the city in the late 1990s, and has won all but one of those cases.
This singular assault on expression has, in fact, caused the Thomas Jefferson Center this year to create a new form of reproof ? the Lifetime Jefferson Muzzle. In the Mayor?s case, the particulars are as chilling as they are novel. Notably, the Giuliani Administration has shown its disregard for ? or inadequate understanding of ? free speech principles by:
- refusing to permit more than 20 taxi drivers to assemble for a protest against proposed city pick-up and drop-off rules (a federal judge ruled that action unconstitutional);
- imposing strict licensing rules on sidewalk artists, and limiting severely the number of such artists who could display their work near the Metropolitan Museum of Art (a policy struck down by the federal court of appeals as a violation of artists? rights);
- imposing a $45 a day permit fee on street musicians, which a federal district judge held excessive and far beyond any actual city costs;
- barring city employees from talking to reporters without specific approval - a policy which the federal appeals court found in violation of public workers? free speech rights;
- directing the transit authority not to display on city buses ads bought by New York Magazine which contained a gentle if critical caricature of the mayor?s quest for publicity (an order held by federal district and appeals courts to be in violation of the First Amendment);
- barring a Lutheran church group from demonstrating and conducting an AIDS education program in a city park (a ban which a New York state appellate court held in clear violation of free speech);
- using city licensing power to terminate the franchises of certain newsstands and raising the fees for other newsstands on the basis of the content of publications they carry (a policy that was partly invalidated by a federal judge, ruling that newsstand operators do have First Amendment rights and that the city?s claimed too much discretion in the standards it had set);
- refusing a permit for a parade or march designed to protest police brutality (a federal judge, ruling that the permit denial violated free speech, implied that the action had reflected the city?s objection to the subject matter);
- suspending and later firing a city police officer who appeared in blackface, while off duty and in civilian dress, taking part in an undeniably racist skit on a Labor day parade float (a suit on behalf of the police officer, and two fire fighters suspended for the same acts, is still pending in federal court);
- barring most public events ? starting with a rally to commemorate World AIDS Day ? from being held on then steps of City Hall, which had long been a forum for such expressive gatherings (a policy promptly struck down by a federal district judge on free speech grounds);
The Giuliani Administration advances the politically plausible claim of seeking a safer, cleaner and more hospitable New York City. Yet by adopting draconian measures of the type that have been described here ? measures that were, almost without exception, struck down by the courts on free speech grounds ? Mayor Giuliani and his administration have bought civility and order at far too high a price. For the collective impact of such an unprecedented ? and unprincipled ? assault upon First Amendment values, the very first Lifetime Jefferson Muzzle goes to Mayor Giuliani and his administration. Source The Thomas Jefferson Center