The National Park Service is reporting, that effective immediately, national parks will no longer require individuals or small groups to secure a permit for First Amendment activities in any of the 392 national parks.
The change is a result of an August 6 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Boardley vs. Department of the Interior) that determined that National Park Service (NPS) regulations requiring individuals and small groups to get a permit for First Amendment activities in parks were too broad. The court said that NPS regulations related to demonstrations and distribution of printed matter were unconstitutional but upheld the NPS practice of setting aside designated areas in parks and requiring a permit for larger demonstrations and the sale of printed material.
This week, the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to appeal the court’s decision.
Under the new regulation, individuals and small groups wishing to exercise their First Amendment rights in national parks will not need a permit and can proceed directly to a designated area and express their views and distribute printed material related to their issue.
The NPS will still require a permit for larger groups. The permit process allows NPS to protect park resources and guarantees groups a priority for a space when multiple groups or individual demonstrators want to use a designated area in a park.
Good grief. For crying out loud, please, just stay home. In my opinion, national parks should never be used for any demonstrations, protests, political speech or prosthelytizing.
I realize that we all have First Amendment rights, but national parks are completely inappropriate places for trying to espouse your view points onto someone else.