Initiative & Referendum Institute v. U.S. Postal Service
NAA filed an amicus curiae brief in June 2011 before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a case challenging a U.S. Postal Service regulatory ban on expressive activity on postal campus sidewalks.
The Postal Service issued notices nationwide in fall 2010 demanding that newsracks be removed from USPS property. The notices coincided with a federal district court decision upholding the Postal Service ban on certain expressive activities on ingress-egress (“non-perimeter”) sidewalks outside post offices.
Initiative & Referendum Institute v. U.S. Postal Service addresses First Amendment activities (solicitation of petition signatures) on interior postal sidewalks under the same regulation, 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(h)(1), that USPS relies on to remove newsracks.
In September 2010, the district court granted summary judgment for USPS, finding no showing that a substantial number of interior postal sidewalks were public forums. It determined USPS did not have to prove the regulation narrowly tailored since it regulates speech in a nonpublic forum.
In October 2010, the ruling was appealed to the D.C. Circuit by the non-profit research institute that collects signatures for placement of initiatives on state ballots, and which first sued the Postal Service in June 2000.
Also joining the amicus brief were A.H. Belo Corp., Gannett Company, Inc., Journal Sentinel, Inc., Lee Enterprises Incorporated, The McClatchy Company, The New York Times Company, The E. W. Scripps Company, and Stephens Media LLC.
The NAA brief explains why interior postal sidewalks may be characterized as public forums, emphasizing their historical use for First Amendment activity, and argued that, even if not public forums, USPS conduct toward unobtrusive speech is unreasonable, and First Amendment activities should be allowed consistent and non-interfering with the purpose and function of the property.
Initiative & Referendum Institute
v. U.S. Postal Service
, 116 F. Supp. 2d 65 (D.D.C. 2000), 297 F. Supp. 2d 143 (D.D.C. 2003), rev’d, 417 F.3d 1299 (D.C. Cir. 2005), No. 00-1246 (D.D.C. Sept. 8, 2010), appeal docketed, No. 10-5337 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 14, 2010).
First Published: June 20, 2011