Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

July 27, 2013

New Orleans' nighttime preaching ban gone

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans City Council on Thursday ended its ban on preaching after dark on Bourbon Street, but an attorney says that won’t end a lawsuit brought by a street preacher who was arrested for doing so.

The revision of the city’s “aggressive solicitation” ordinance passed 6-0 and takes effect immediately.

“It’s not surprising that the city repealed that language. They were constrained to do something. I think they waited as long as they could,” said attorney Nathan Kellum, who represents preacher Paul Gros in a lawsuit filed after his arrest in May 2012.

“He wanted to share a message. He was kept from sharing a message. There has to be a recognition of that patent constitutional violation; there has been none,” Kellum said.

Gros’ lawsuit was consolidated with two others brought by street preachers arrested during the Southern Decadence gay pride festival over the Labor Day weekend in 2012.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, which represents one of those other plaintiffs, cannot comment because the case is still in court, executive director Marjorie Esman said.

The city ordinance was passed in 2011. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon barred enforcement of it in late September.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier canceled a trial scheduled Aug. 12 and scheduled a status conference Aug. 15.

The ordinance revision deletes a sentence forbidding people to loiter or gather on Bourbon Street to disseminate “any social, political, or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.”

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