Lawsuit Relaxes Free Speech Regulations At State Capitol

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado announced today that it has settled a 4-year-old lawsuit against a state agency regarding procedures for issuing permits and holding demonstrations on the steps of the State Capitol.The case was filed against the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA), which was given new administrative powers in 2004 to cancel a capitol rally permit whenever the federal Department of Homeland Security declared a heightened security level, the color-coded alert system that was implemented after the September 11th attacks.

State patrol officers were also authorized to shut down a demonstration if any participant was found to have violated any law.

Under the settlement, the DPA director and law enforcement are not allowed to cancel a rally unless there is a specific threat to the State Capitol grounds and public safety.

The lawsuit was dismissed after the agreement, which was formulated right before the Colorado Court of Appeals was set to hear legal argument in the case, according to the Colorado ACLU.

The settlement also relaxed DPA regulations that further restricted solicitations of materials at Capitol rallies.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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