Opinion On The Nuisance Party Ordinance
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
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and ACLU at NCSU believes this ordinance should be repealed.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.