Do You Have a First Amendment Right to Party?
Miley Cyrus sings that there is a party in the U.S.A. The Beastie Boys even proclaimed it’s a right that we should fight for. But is partying protected by the First Amendment?
The right to party has become an issue in the sleepy resort town of Narragansett , R.I., where an ordinance allowing police to crack down on parties has been questioned. The law allows police to break up parties of five or more people, place orange stickers on homes that host raucous parties and also levy hefty fines, up to $300 for repeat noise violations.
The partyers, mainly University of Rhode Island students who rent homes off-campus during the school year, claimed that the stickers are pretty much a form of public humiliation. They also claimed that their right to assemble, protected under the First Amendment, is being infringed on, and sued the town.
The case was taken up by the federal court, and on January 22, U.S. District Judge William E. Smith rejected the claims of the students and upheld the ordinance. Smith said that the law was not aimed at breaking up intimate or quiet parties. It instead cracked down on behavior that was already against the law.
“In other words, while the Beastie Boys might disagree, the First Amendment does not imply a ‘right to party’ disassociated from expression,” Smith wrote in a footnote in his 44-page ruling, URI Student Senate v. Town of Narragansett.
The university students have not decided whether to appeal the decision.
What do you think?
Is partying a form of assembly? If so, is partying protected under the first amendment? Are the stickers posted by police a form of public humiliation, or do they serve as a warning? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!
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