Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Artist Has Constitutional Right to Sell Works on Sidewalk—Court

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that artist sales are protected by the First Amendment, she said.

A federal judge in Reno made a similar ruling against Reno in 2003 and approved a
$47,500 settlement for painter White and sculptor Ben Klinefelter.Story


  1. Good for him! You should e-mail this story to the City Attorney, Mayor & commishioners! Maybe if they start worrying about paying out a large sum in a lawsuit, they might get with the program!

  2. Sound good for us artists!
    Too bad they are now trying to screw us by making us pay $1.50 an hour to park downtown. Cuts into the profits a bit, wouldnt you say?

  3. Great web site. I just found it. I am Steven C. White, the Artist that won the ruling from the 9th Circuit. I've got more good news. The City of Sparks filed an appeal to the entire court, referred to as "en banc". For a Xmas present we just got news that the case went for review by all the Judges of the Ninth Circuit and none of them voted to allow Sparks appeal to continue. A unanimous victory in the 9th Circuit for the First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights of all Citizen Artists.
    I hope you contact me. I've got a lot of very important information that needs to get out to Artists all over the Country. Artists not only need to know what their rights are but how to stand up for their rights, without being arrested.
    My attorneys and I are just getting started. Now that we have won the question of my art being fully protected by the 1st amendment and my right to sell is also protected -- now I'm getting ready to file another law suit that challenges "all" licensing schemes being applied to Artists. You see, every licensing scheme I have ever come across, exempts non-profit groups from licenses when they sell their expressive materials. The churches are exempt from licenses, the girl scouts when selling cookies, Green Peace when selling stuffed toy whales, etc.. Remember the 9th Circuit ruled that it makes no difference if protected material is sold for profit or given away, it is protected equally. The sale of First Amendment protected material is also protected and First Amendment rights are not diminished merely because the protected expression is sold for profit.
    When governments exempt non-profit groups for licenses when selling their First Amendment protected material, they must also exempt Artists or violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as First Amendment rights by selective enforcement.
    We are very hopeful that we can get the next litigation all the way to the Ninth Circuit too. We need more litigation!!! Artists need to stand up in Federal Courts and fight for their rights to perform, display, and sell their art on traditional public fora. We are fighting for the very soul of our country.
    I've painted my way across America for over 40 years doing festivals and art shows and selling on public fora. Those experiences now give me the understanding of what needs to be done. I am very fortunate to be working with two brilliant civil rights attorneys. These two ladies have been in practice for 19 years representing little people like me in federal court standing up for all of our Constitutional Rights. Terri Keyser Cooper also has a masters degree in the Arts. They view their practice as a form of conceptual Art.
    I was a witness at the shooting at Columbine High School. I just happened to be doing an Art show just across the street from Clement Park, attached to Columbine. I had learned about the Bery v. New York decision by the 2nd Circuit in 1996. Armed with that ruling I challenged the park and rec. there in Littleton, Colo. and demanded to sell my Art in their Clement Park. This was the year before that terrible tragedy at Columbine. I threatened the park and rec with a law suit and they backed off and let me create a free family community art show that summer in the park. We had senior citizens and kids from Columbine, Chatfield, and Arappahoe High Schools participating. We had kids reading poetry, singing, and displaying their paintings and photographs and the public loved it. As a result, I ended up staying their through the winter. In the spring I was asked by a Boy Scout Master to come and talk to his scouts. I found myself at a local church with 40 boys sitting on the floor listening as I explained to them about their civil rights and how they could go to the parks and hold art show, have skits and plays, and do other art projects for money to pay for their camping trips.
    The next day most of those boys walked into Columbine and one was killed.
    Two days after that tragedy I was at Office Max, having a paper printed talking about the need in our country to give the gift of art back to our children. I left 1,500 copies at the memorial in the park.
    A young guy printing the papers began reading it and started to cry. He came over to me and asked to speak to me outside. Outside he shook my hand and told me that he thought someone should know that Eric and Dillon, the shooters, were both incredible artists. He said that someone should know what it was all about. I asked him, John, what happened at Columbine. He said that Eric and Dillon started the "Trench Coat Mofia" to be against the "jocks". He said that their was a lot of support for the football team and no support for Artists. He said thats why it happened. Later in the fall of that year Columbine won the State Football championship.
    John then said to me: Maybe if Eric and John had a way to get all their anger out through their art in a positive way, like during the free community art show you started , maybe, just maybe it never would have happened.
    That moment was a turning point in my life. I realized at that moment that I would spend the rest of my life trying to deliver a gift back to the children of our country as gift from the children of Columbine. The Gift of Art.
    From Colo. I went to Salt Lake City and challenged that City. I ended up working with the Mayor, Rocky Anderson, for 3 1/2 years on getting an Artist Ordinance passed.
    It did a lot of good for about a year when the City Council let it go and wrote their own. Now its as bad as ever in that City.
    Back then I was still learning and didn't realize that "any" Artist ordinance is unconstitutional on its face! We're talking about Free Speech here. Any restriction on free speech must be equally applied to all citizens speaking on public or private fora. An "Artist" ordinance selectively places regulatory restrictions on citizens 1st Amendment rights based solely on the fact that they are including artistic expression in their speaking. Such an ordinance is a violation of 1st and 14th Amendment rights.
    Anyway, I thought you would like to hear a little bit about my motivations. We are by no means done. The Ninth Circuit ruling was great. One thing we wanted and they gave us was to be more specific about "Original Artists selling their Self Expression" as apposed to a gallery RE-selling and Artists work. That was an important distinction that needed to be made.
    You can reach me at;
    I hope I can help you with the fight down in Florida. I used to do shows with Howard Allen Events all over Florida. I know all about the problems of exploitation and violations of civil rights Artist down their are up against. That ruling against the Artists in St. Augustine was shameful. I might be able to help Artist to bring winning litigation in Florida.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Steven C. White
    Artist / Artist Advocate