Analyze and discuss whether the permit system

Analyze and discuss whether the permit system

A group of people in the state of Nature form a new religion called GreenSpace, which is devoted to connecting with natural spiritually and to preserving nature to the extent possible. This religion carries on for over 50 years and is passed from generation to generation until it has thousands of members.

A tradition develops within the religion of GreenSpace that once every year, during hunting season (May 1 through November 1), adherents dress up in costumes that make them look like deer and roam the forest for an entire eight hour period. During the seven years since this tradition has started, a total of 12 members of GreenSpace have been accidentally shot by hunters and of these, three have been killed.

Therefore, the state of Nature passes the following law:

Section 1. The purpose of the statute is to prevent GreenSpace members from undertaking actions that are dangerous to themselves and others pursuant to their religious custom.

Section 2. No person shall dress in a costume that causes him or herself to appear as though he or she is a deer between May 1 and November 1 of any calendar year.

In response to this legislation, GreenSpace members organize a massive protest in downtown Nature City on Saturday, May 12. However, when they apply to obtain a permit that would allow them to protest in this manner, their permit application is denied.

After some research, a GreenSpace official finds that the Nature City permit application process gives discretion to the city to deny a permit to protest if, in the judgment of the licensing authority, the demonstration “is likely to seriously inconvenience residents of Nature City.” When the GreenSpace asks a government official why they were denied a permit while BlueMan Group was granted a permit after a similar application a month earlier, the official responds “Well, you know, BlueMan Group really isn’t so controversial. You guys are extremely controversial and I figured that granting the permit would cause protesters and counter-protesters and would, in general, lead to a massive breach of the peace.”

After having been denied a permit, GreenSpace holds a rally in a local park instead. During the rally, Jane, a GreenSpace spiritual leader announces: “We cannot support any government that continually disallows us our traditions and continually ignores the needs of our environment. We need to seriously think about planning and overthrow of the current regime. If we can do so nonviolently, that is preferable. But if a little violence is necessary to, then so be it.”

Issue 1: GreenSpace officials bring an action to declare the statute regarding the deer costumes unconstitutional, because it restricts their free exercise of religion. GreenSpace argues both that the law was aimed at their religion and that it restricts otherwise legal behavior that they are required to engage in because of their religion. Please analyze and discuss whether the statute is unconstitutional as a violation of GreenSpace members’ free exercise of religion.

Issue 2: GreenSpace officials also bring an action to challenge the denial of their permit to protest in downtown Nature City. Nature City officials argue that the permit system is merely a reasonable “time, place and manner” restriction and that their decision should therefore be upheld. Please analyze and discuss whether the permit system as applied in this case is constitutional or is an unconstitutional restriction on GreenSpace’s freedom of speech and assembly.

Issue 3: Jane is arrested and charged with incitement. Assume that her statement, as quoted above, would be considered incitement under the laws of the state of Nature. Jane argues that her speech is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. Please analyze and discuss whether she is correct or whether she can be constitutionally charged with incitement.

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