Freedom of Assembly/Right to Petition Attorney Arizona

Along with the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, our right to petition our government to address our grievances and our freedom of assembly are fundamental to our democracy. They are protected by constitutional provisions at both the federal and state levels, meaning the law places restrictions on the government’s ability to restrict its citizens from assembling to discuss or protest matters, and from petitioning their elected and appointed officials for changes in the law or to make particular decisions about matters of public concern. These fundamental rights often require a diligent attorney to defend and enforce them.

Recent events like the Occupy Wall Street movement – and its countless off-shoots – brought questions about the right to publicly assemble into the national spotlight once again. Whether the question involves an overnight vigil in a public park, or a short, individual protest outside City Hall, legal questions often arise when security or other government personnel seek to stop such events, or to curtail when and how they occur. While reasonable restrictions on such events may be allowed to protect other policy concerns (like public health and safety), many restrictions are not.

Also, the ability to gain access to public officials to express public sentiment or concerns about their actions or decisions is part of the package of rights our state and federal constitutions seek to preserve. Though again reasonable restrictions on these rights are logical and allowed, attempts by public figures to actively quash public dissent or avoid good faith, peaceable debate over public issues may give rise to legal claims to both order that public comment be heard and to provide damages for wrongfully stopping the public discourse.

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