Road Rules

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee October 30, 2009

In the comments for yesterday's story about a fight between a woman and a group of Larouchies passing out pamphlets from a table on Capitol Hill, commenter Long Time Listener First Time [Commenter?] asked:

Just a quick question. Do you know the legality of the Larouchies setting up tables to display their political pamphlets in public spaces? Is any sort of permit required?

Good question, LTLFT. Is it a first amendment issue? Can you set up shop anywhere and pass out crazy-ass literature? I asked this very question to Seattle Department of Transportation Spokesman Rick Sheridan, who says:

"The Seattle Municipal Code clearly outlines that one cannot place an object in the right-of-way without a permit, even if it is for political purposes.  So an unpermitted table holding political pamphlets is not allowed on a sidewalk as it would interfere with pedestrian and bicycle mobility.  One is absolutely free to express one’s political opinion in these public spaces, you just can’t place an obstruction there.  A table in the right-of-way without a valid permit is subject to a $250 citation."

There you go. You can exercise the shit out of your first amendment rights, as long as you're not blocking traffic.

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