Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Noise Violations: How You can Help!

For a more mature (or at least older) perspective to the ACC Noise Ordinance, I thought it would be good to present, in part, the ABH's article on the noise ordinance ruling:
The state Supreme Court on Monday tossed out two University of Georgia students' lawsuit seeking to overturn an Athens-Clarke County law regulating loud noise.
The court ruled 4-3 that the students, William Hoffman and Robert Manlove, cannot challenge the law, because they'd never been cited for violating the noise ordinance.

"(I)n order to challenge the constitutionality of an ordinance on First Amendment grounds, the party before the court must show an injury in fact," Justice Robert Benham wrote in the three-page majority opinion. "Here, it is undisputed that appellants have never been subject to any fine or penalty as a result of violating" the law.

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who is resigning at the end of the month, penned a passionate 15-page dissent.

"Not only is the majority wrong in this case, but the precedent it sets today bodes ill for the future for those who believe that the courts must remain ever vigilant against government attempts to control, and ultimately suppress, the right of the people to speak freely," Sears wrote.
Pretty much the same thing that the R&B had, but the ABH also added this little tidbit, and I would like to help this lawyer out. If anyone HAS been cited for a noise violation, please contact him:
Manlove and Hoffman's lawyer, one-time Athens-Clarke Commission candidate Charles Jones, did not return a call seeking comment. He told The Associated Press, though, that he would look for new clients who have been cited for violating the noise ordinance and file another lawsuit.

Because the court ruled that Manlove and Hoffman lack standing - upholding a 2008 Clarke County Superior Court dismissal - the majority opinion did not delve into the question of whether the noise ordinance actually is constitutional.

Jones argued that music's volume is expression that is protected by the state constitution's free-speech clause. He also said that the ordinance is unfair because it is equally restrictive in single-family neighborhoods, student apartment complexes where parties are common and in downtown Athens, where live music blares into the wee hours.