On July 28, 2014, the ACLU-NH filed an amicus brief before the New Hampshire Supreme Court.  In this case, the City of Keene brought civil claims against individuals who are engaging Keene parking enforcement officials in a non-threatening manner.  The City is also seeking an injunction prohibiting these individuals’ speech that is grossly overbroad and would suppress the ability of these individuals to engage parking enforcement officials peacefully.  As we explained in the brief, this speech is constitutionally protected, and the trial court correctly dismissed the City’s claims.

On June 9, 2015, in a victory for free speech rights, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision dismissing the City's civil causes of action.  The Court explained: "[T]he First Amendment shields the respondents from tort liability for the challenged conduct.  Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court correctly determined that enforcing the City’s tortious interference with contractual relations claim would violate the respondents’ First Amendment rights."  Accordingly, the Court concluded: "Because we hold that the First Amendment bars the City from pursuing its claim for tortious interference with contractual relations, we also conclude that the First Amendment bars the City from pursuing its claim that the respondents are liable for conspiring to commit the very same tort."  The Court remanded on the question of whether an equitable remedy was appropriate, but the Court made clear that it expressed “no opinion as to whether the  City’s allegations, if proven, are sufficient to warrant the trial court’s exercise of its equitable power, or as to whether the particular injunctive relief requested by the City would violate the Federal or State Constitutions.”

Attorney(s)

Anthony Galdieri of Nixon Peabody LLP

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Nixon Peabody LLP

Date filed

July 28, 2014

Court

New Hampshire Supreme Court

Status

Decided

Case number

No. 2013-885

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