Chicago Ban on Peddling Outside Wrigley Field OK

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By Melissa Heelan Stanzione

May 24— A Chicago ordinance that bans peddling outside Wrigley Field to curtail crowding doesn't violate the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held May 23.

The ordinance regulates all sales alike—it “applies as much to the sales of bobblehead dolls and baseball jerseys as it does to the sale of printed matter”—and is thus content-neutral within the meaning of Reed v. Gilbert, 83 U.S.L.W. 1950, 2015 BL 193925 (U.S. 2015)(83 U.S.L.W. 1950, 6/23/15), the Seventh Circuit said.

Here, a magazine vendor selling outside the stadium was ticketed after he refused to move across the street to comply with the city's Adjacent Sidewalks Ordinance.

He then sued the city and the officer who ticketed him, alleging the ordinance, which forbids peddling on certain sidewalks around the stadium, violated the First and 14th Amendments.

The district court denied his motion for a preliminary injunction.

The ordinance is neutral and the city's rational basis for it—to prevent crowding—passes muster, Judge Frank H. Easterbrook wrote for the court.

Discriminatory Enforcement?

There may, however, be a problem with discriminatory enforcement, the court said.

Chicago Cubs employees are allowed to sell game programs and merchandise outside the ballpark on sidewalks owned by the team, it said.

The ordinance applies to all adjacent sidewalks, without regard to ownership, the court said.

If the vendor can show that the city favors Cubs vendors over other literature sellers, it will then “be entitled to some relief,” it said, affirming the district court's denial of the preliminary injunction.

Judges David F. Hamilton and Pamela Pepper, sitting by designation from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, joined the opinion.

The Law Office of Mark G. Weinberg and Adele D. Nicholas, Chicago, represented the vendor. The Chicago Office of the Corporation Counsel represented the city and the police officer.

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at mstanzione@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bna.com and Jeffrey D. Koelemay at jkoelemay@bna.com

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