Traveling Christian evangelist James Deferio believes what is “noise” to some is “salvation” to others. He is challenging the application of the noise ordinance against his preaching in the city of Ithaca, New York. It is part of a trend of evangelists challenging such ordinances.
Under the ordinance, you must keep your noise to below the level where it is audible beyond twenty-five feet. He was found to have violated that standard twice in August and has now sued.
His complaint cites the 2006 decision of the United States Court of Appeals striking down this type of restriction. In Deegan v. City of Ithaca, et al, the court ruled in favor of James Deferio in his challenge to enforcement in Ithaca, N.Y. Deegan was awarded his legal fees, which came to about $100,000, and a dollar in damages.
Notably, in the Deegan complaint the plaintiffs pointed out that others in the area in talking and were left alone by police.
Presumably, it is the rigid scope of this ordinance and its selective enforcement that remains the problem. Cities have been upheld in the application of time, place, and manner restrictions, including limitations on religious speech in past cases under nuisance laws and municipal regulations. See here and here. Nuisance, however, has been used by intolerant individuals to prevent the establishment of mosques and other religious facilities, as here.
Here is the Deferio Complaint.
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