Big News in US Busker Laws in St Louis at least. One down, many cities to go…Thank you to BUSK THE MOVIE for this info
ST. LOUIS â€˘ A federal district judge has cleared the way for performers to take their acts to the streets of St. Louis without having to audition first, pay for a license or be restricted to a certain part of the city.
Judge Catherine D. Perry on Tuesday granted a preliminary injunction sought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri to prevent the enforcement of ordinances restricting the performers.
A lawsuit by the ACLU challenged the constitutionality of the cityâ€™s street performer ordinances, which require a permit to perform. The court also ordered both sides to try to resolve the case through mediation by Sept. 30. If they fail to do so, the judge will consider a permanent injunction at trial.
The decision affects street musicians, mimes, jugglers, dancers, magicians and anyone else who wants to perform.
â€śSt. Louisâ€™ busking ordinances are as unwise as they are unconstitutional,â€ť Tony Rothert, ACLU legal director for Eastern Missouri, said in a statement. â€śBesides detracting from a creative, vibrant and diverse city, the challenged ordinances are constitutionally defective.
â€śArtistic expression at public places is protected by the First Amendment,â€ť Rothert said.
Jeffrey Mittman, the chapterâ€™s executive director, said the First Amendment protects the â€śmarketplace of ideas â€” from standard political discourse, to the leafleting of unpopular speech, to the performance of a beautiful song.â€ť
Mayor Francis Slayâ€™s office had no immediate response.
The city has regulated street performers since 1997, but last year the permit fees increased from $25 to $100 dollars.
The ACLU had argued in the federal suit that St. Louisâ€™ ordinances violate the First and 14th Amendments because they use vague terms that could suppress artistic expression.
City officials had argued the ordinances were not unconstitutional and said further that the regulations only affected people performing for money.
â€śThe ordinance seeks to balance competing needs on busy streets,â€ť city spokesman Maggie Crane said when the suit was filed in May.
In her order, Perry wrote, â€śI conclude (the cityâ€™s) interests in maintaining public order and convenience can be better served by measures less intrusive on First Amendment freedoms.â€ť
The suit was filed on behalf of street musicians Nick Pence and Frederick Walker.
Alderman Phyllis Young, whose district includes downtown, sponsored legislation in 1997 to allow artists and musicians to perform in most of the city. Before that, the city prohibited street performers.
Margaret Gillerman is a reporter for the Post-Dispatch.