Jul 25, 2023
You can bring your paper signs back to the Tennessee House
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A chancellor ruled quickly Wednesday morning that those entering the Tennessee House could bring back their 8x11 signs. Chancellor Ann Martin filed a temporary restraining
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A chancellor ruled quickly Wednesday morning that those entering the Tennessee House could bring back their 8x11 signs.
Chancellor Ann Martin filed a temporary restraining order that will allow the signs until Sept. 5, which will be far past when special session concludes. The order means signs are allowed in the House gallery in the capitol and the Cordell Hull meeting rooms.
This happened after a lawsuit filed early Wednesday morning by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, which asked a Davidson County judge to block the Tennessee House from enforcing a newly adopted rule that prohibits protesters from displaying small signs during legislative proceedings.
The lawsuit was filed in Davidson County Chancery Court on behalf of three women who want lawmakers to pass serious gun reforms, including Nashville mother Allison Polidor, who was removed from a House subcommittee Tuesday for holding a small sign.
That sign read: "1 KID > ALL THE GUNS."
"Signs, and the action of silently holding them, are forms of speech and are protected under the First Amendment," the lawsuit argues. "The Rules of Order are entirely unreasonable....
"A sign the size of an average piece of paper cannot obstruct the view of participants or committee members and is not disruptive to the proceedings. "
In addition, the lawsuit notes that, under the new rules, "a person attending a subcommittee meeting could wear a shirt or hat or button with the Nike logo on it but cannot have a sign with the Nike logo on it that is the exact same size."
The plaintiffs are seeking an emergency injunction to stop enforcement of the rule prohibiting people from silently holding signs during House of Representative proceedings, an ACLU news release says.
(Click here to read the lawsuit.)
“I have a close friend whose son was a third grader at The Covenant School last year. I spent most of the day on March 27, 2023 not knowing whether my friend’s son was dead or alive. He survived, but his life, and so many others, will forever be marked by this tragedy,” Polidor said in the statement.
“On August 22, 2023, I joined with so many other moms from across Tennessee to urge our lawmakers to enact common sense gun laws. I was removed for peacefully holding a small sign, and exercising my First Amendment rights. What started as a debate on gun safety has morphed into a blatant violation of my First Amendment rights.”
Another plaintiff Maryam Abolfazli said she came to watch the proceedings and express her concerns about gun safety."
“But the House’s new rule on signs prevents me from expressing what I believe to the very people elected to represent me," she said in the statement. "I joined this lawsuit to ensure that Tennesseans’ right to voice their opinions to lawmakers is protected.”
This is a developing story. Stay with NewsChannel 5 for new details.