This morning the National Park Service received an ACLJ demand letter detailing how the Park Service’s malicious closing of open-air war memorials, like the World War II Memorial, violates the First Amendment.
Simply put, spending money and paying security to close parks that otherwise offer unimpeded ingress and egress for 24 hours per day, seven days per week, is not a “reasonable time, place, and manner restriction.” In fact, it’s a deliberately malicious act designed to – in the words of one Park Service employee – “make life as difficult for people as we can.”
With weekend reports that Vietnam veterans were escorted from the Vietnam Memorial, another memorial previously open 24 hours per day, seven days per week (often with no visible security), the situation is only escalating.
Malice is not an appropriate governing strategy, nor is it constitutionally defensible when it results in the blanket, costly closure of a traditional public fora, places that have “immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.”
Park Service officials have our demand and the ball in their court. We will keep you informed of their response.