Minister Needs Permit to Preach With Sketch Board in Park

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By Bernie Pazanowski

An evangelical Christian minister fell short in arguing he should be allowed to use a sketch board while proselytizing in a park without first getting the required permit ( Moore v. Brown , 2017 BL 293827, 5th Cir., No. 16-11335, 8/22/17 ).

He didn’t show that he would likely prevail on his claims that the Dallas permitting rule is unconstitutional, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said in upholding a district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction.

The rule requires a permit for structures larger than 4 feet square. The minister uses a portable sketch board that is 4 feet wide, 2 feet long, and 6.5 feet high.

The rule is a content-neutral time, place, and manner restriction on speech, the appeals court said. Not only does it promote the city’s interest in safety and coordination of the interests using the park, but the minister has ample alternatives to spread his message, it said.

The rule also doesn’t have a close nexus to expression and gives sufficient notice of its across the board applicability, the court said.

Judges Patrick E. Higginbotham, Jerry E. Smith, and Catharina Haynes were on the panel.

Center for Religious Expression represented the minister. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP represented the city.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at

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