Judge: West Virginia Can’t Restrict Petitions in Parks

Wed, Jun 17 2009 by Anonymous

A U.S. District court judge has ruled that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources can’t prevent citizens from circulating petitions in state parks. While West Virginian does not give its people access to the ballot initiative and referendum process, candidates for office have to collect signatures on nominating petitions.

In its argument before the court, the division claimed the park was intended “for the recreational and aesthetic wilderness enjoyment for the citizens of West Virginia,” and was not a public forum. In his ruling, the judge  said that argument was “silly at best.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute on behalf of the West Virginia Constitution Party. Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead hailed Bailey’s decision as a victory for free speech, saying, “We cannot allow the government to silence us. In America, we have the right to be heard and we have to protect it.”