Christian group sues Oklahoma City over right to preach in Bricktown

A group of four Christian residents of Oklahoma City has sued the city council and others, alleging that enforcement of the city's noise ordinance in Bricktown infringes on their constitutional rights.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: September 28, 2012
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Four Oklahoma City residents who want to preach about their Christian faith in Bricktown are suing the city over enforcement of its noise ordinance.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, alleges enforcement of the city's noise ordinance, which restricts them to three permits a year to preach with an amplifier, infringes on their constitutional rights to free speech and free practice of religion.

The plaintiffs are listed as Brady Brewer, Trisha Brewer, Shane Dodson and Tammi Dodson.

Their attorney, who said they are Protestant Christian residents of Oklahoma City, said they preferred not to comment on the case because they are not seeking publicity.

The city has not been officially served with the lawsuit, city spokeswoman Kristy Yager said. But city officials stand by the noise ordinance and its enforcement.

“The Constitution states that we can regulate speech by time, place and manner, as long as it is not content-based,” Yager said. “Our noise permit (ordinance) is content-neutral.”

Prior restraint?

The plaintiffs' attorney, Brent Olsson, countered that the city's restriction on the number of times they can preach amounts to prior restraint.

Prior restraint of free speech is unconstitutional in many cases.

The city's restrictions unnecessarily trample the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to share their faith, the suit alleges.

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