PORTLAND – The ACLU of Maine and the law firm Goodwin Procter LLP will be in federal court Tuesday to challenge a sweeping ban on being in medians in Portland. The ban was enacted by the city council in July and went into effect in August.

The ACLU and Goodwin Procter filed the lawsuit on behalf of Michael W. Cutting, Wells Staley-Mays and Alison E. Prior, Portland residents who regularly engage in protected speech in areas defined as medians by the ordinance. Mr. Cutting and Mr. Staley-Mays are political activists who have long stood in medians holding signs expressing their political opinions. Ms. Prior is homeless, and has stood in medians soliciting donations in order to buy food. 

The ordinance prohibits standing, sitting and staying in medians except to cross the street. It defines a median as any “paved or planted area of public right-of-way, dividing a street or highway into lanes according to the direction of travel.” According to the complaint, the ban is unconstitutionally over-broad, and by adopting it the city has significantly restricted the plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected speech.

In October, the city agreed to stop enforcing the ban, except with respect to individuals who are openly and obviously impaired by drugs or alcohol and posing a threat to traffic, pending the outcome of tomorrow’s trial. 

The complaint is available online at http://www.aclumaine.org/media/716

Arguments in Cutting, et al. v. City of Portland

Tuesday, November 19
9:00 a.m. ET

U.S. District Court, Courtroom 2
156 Federal Street