Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Second Circuit: The "Fifth Avenue Rule" for New York City Parades

Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is the most famous and most desirable parade route in New York City.

Informally since 1971, and by statute since 2001, the City will not grant a permit for a parade on Fifth Avenue to a "new" parade--a parade which has not previously marched on Fifth Avenue. The City first adopted the informal rule after the number of Fifth Avenue parades increased to 18, and it justifies the "Fifth Avenue Rule" on the grounds of the "over-saturation" of parades in one of the most congested areas of the City--midtown Manhattan.

In International Action Center v. City of New York the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today upheld the constitutionality of the Fifth Avenue Rule, concluding that the rule is not content based in violation of the First Amendment, but applies equally to all "new" parades regardless of the political or cultural views being expressed in the parade. The decision can be found here.

I had long noticed that the groups parading on Fifth Avenue were the same year after year. I now understand why: the Fifth Avenue Rule.

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