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Our Opinion On The Nuisance Party Ordinance

The Raleigh City Council passed the Nuisance Party Ordinance in 2000 to discourage destructive, obstructing and unlawful behavior intermittently displayed by college students at social gatherings.

While the ACLU at NCSU does not dispute the City Council’s
intentions of preserving communal peace, we believe that this ordinance not only criminalizes offences that are already illegal but also criminalizes behavior that is protected by the Constitution.

The North Carolina state affiliate of the ACLU has taken a look at this legislation and confirmed our suspicions that it may violate certain inalienable constitutional rights. For example, the First Amendment states clearly that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the…right of the people to peaceably assemble”. The Nuisance Party Ordinance on the other hand states that “any person [who] …continues to allow a gathering to continue which is or becomes a nuisance …is in violation of this section. Any person attending a nuisance party is also in violation of this section.” In other words, if you are merely present at a nuisance party you are deemed a criminal even if you have not engage in any prohibited activity such as “public drinking”, “public urination”, ”unusually loud noise” and so forth. If a person is present at a party and commits no “offence” but is fined for it, one can only conclude that the offense he/she was fined for is peaceful assemblage. Also, this ordinance violates the Fourteenth Amendment because it does not provide due process of the law. The ordinance criminalizes too broad a range of constitutionally protected activity and infringes on the personal liberty of persons who attend parties or social gatherings.

This is clearly unconstitutional and ACLU at NCSU believes this ordinance should be repealed.

Participate in the discussion about the NPO on the Wolfweb.


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