Street performers do not need to audition or purchase a license to perform in St. Louis City. Today U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry granted an injunction in the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri’s case, Pence v. City of St. Louis. The injunction also prevents the enforcement of geographic limits, so street performers are now free to appear at any public location. The Court ordered the parties to attempt to resolve this case in mediation.
“St. Louis’ busking ordinances are as unwise as they are unconstitutional,” says Tony Rothert, ACLU-EM legal director. “Besides detracting from a creative, vibrant and diverse city, the challenged ordinances are constitutionally defective. Artistic expression at public places is protected by the First Amendment. Street performers should not need to get the City’s permission to perform on a public sidewalk.”
“The ACLU has a long history of protecting the First Amendment, which forms the foundation of our historical marketplace of ideas ? from standard political discourse, to the leafleting of unpopular speech, to the performance of a beautiful song,” says Jeffrey Mittman, the ACLU-EM’s executive director. “Americans are rightly suspicious any time the government tries to restrict what we can say or whom we can address.”