This odd claim is presented in a comment thread at the blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars in comment #6 on the linked post. It refers to a city council banning a community group. Seems to me this would be a violation of the First Amendment right to freely assemble.

Is it a power of local governments to ban political groups anywhere in the United States?

  • This isn't really about skepticism. It's matter for a constitutional lawyer, and eventually the courts. Jul 21, 2011 at 16:51
  • The link in the question is to a blog, which in turn references another blog, which in turn references an alleged ordinance (which is an image uploaded by the blog poster). Could we at least use a reference to a reputable news organization reporting on this, such as this one Jul 21, 2011 at 16:54
  • @DJC - with all due respect, there are some people who wold trust information from Arkansas Gazette's blog significantly more than that coming out of the homebase of Walter Durante.
    – user5341
    Jul 21, 2011 at 19:09
  • @DVK "Some people believe it" doesn't make it a reliable source. Jul 21, 2011 at 19:54
  • @DJC - and "some guy is willing to print it at cost to promote his point of view" does?
    – user5341
    Jul 22, 2011 at 0:19

1 Answer 1


This is a tricky area. The US Constitution forbids the federal government (refered to as the state) from infringing on the rights of its citizens. The states then each have their own governing document, most of which incorporate the restrictions to include the state government. There is a point of controversy among some as to wether or not those restrictions are automatically conferred upon any governments underneath them.

Here is a copy of the ordinance in question. (Thank you Oddthinking)

Under the Arkanasas Constitution I would expect that the Article 1 Section 4 may provide some protection to the group:

  1. Right of assembly and of petition. The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good; and to petition, by address or remonstrance, the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.

Article 12 (Starts page 40) deals with the powers of local governments and businesses incorporated in the state of Arkansas.

Section 4:

  1. Limitation on legislative and taxing power - Local bond issues. No municipal corporation shall be authorized to pass any laws contrary to the general laws of the state;

(There is more to it on the site that does not seem relavent)

However Arkansas does allow limited home rule which I would assume was used to enact this law. I would expect that the state constitution protections above would protect from this should it ever get to court.

  • This is just a feeling/point of controversy. If there aren't any rulings by a court supporting a point of view, or a quote from an explicit law on the subject, isn't this just an opinion?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 21, 2011 at 15:56
  • 1
    Its a question of the interpretation of the US Constitution. Without a link to the actual law that was passed "banning" the groups it is difficult to find any case law to impeach or support the specific law. The question was asked generally so I answered generally.
    – Chad
    Jul 21, 2011 at 16:40
  • +1. Without a formal legal opinion, this is as good as you can answer this question IMHO. (including Chad's preceding comment)
    – user5341
    Jul 21, 2011 at 19:22
  • @DVK, I agree. This is as good as you can get without an actual formal legal opinion (That would include a law textbook chapter, an article in a law journal or a court ruling, right?)... AND this isn't good enough. We have a higher community standard here for answers than on most forums; that is our strength.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 22, 2011 at 1:15
  • @Chad, if you want a copy of the ordinance allegedly passed by the council, the Arkansas Times provided a (claimed) copy.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 22, 2011 at 1:18

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