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USDC IN/ND case 4:16-cv-00043 document 1 filed 06/09/16 page 1 of 7

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
HAMMOND DIVISION AT LAFAYETTE

HIGHER SOCIETY OF INDIANA, INC., )


)
Plaintiff,
)
)
v.
)
)
TIPPECANOE COUNTY, INDIANA,
)
)
Defendant.
)

No. 4:16-cv-00043

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief


Introductory statement
1.

Plaintiff Higher Society of Indiana, Inc. (Higher Society), an organization that

advocates for the legalization of marijuana, wishes to return to the grounds of the Tippecanoe
County Courthouse, where it held a rally in May, to hold another rally. The group has formally
requested permission to appear and has been denied by Tippecanoe County because Tippecanoe
County considers the Courthouse property to be a closed forum, although it allows public
rallies and other activities if sponsored by one or more of the Tippecanoe County Commissioners
and approved by the Commissioners as a whole. Therefore, the grounds of the courthouse have
been the site of many public meetings and demonstrations. However, none of the Tippecanoe
County Commissioners have agreed to sponsor Higher Societys planned rally, and therefore it,
its members, and its supporters are not being allowed to appear. The closed forum policy of
Tippecanoe County that allows favored groups to use the courthouse grounds for rallies and
other activities, but not disfavored groups, is unconstitutional as violative of the First
Amendment and must be enjoined.

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Jurisdiction, venue, cause of action


2.

This Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331 and 28 U.S.C.

1343.
3.

Venue in this district is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1391.

4.

Declaratory relief is authorized by Rule 57 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and

by 28 U.S.C 2201 and 28 U.S.C. 2202.


5.

This action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 to redress the deprivation, under

color of state law, of rights secured by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Parties
6.

Higher Society of Indiana, Inc., is an Indiana nonprofit corporation with its principal

office in Marion County, Indiana.


7.

Tippecanoe County, Indiana is an Indiana County located in the northwestern part of

Indiana.
Facts
8.

Higher Society is an organization that advocates for the legalization in Indiana of

marijuana. Its public education arm is known as Higher Fellowship.


9.

To further its purpose it has held a number of rallies at the Indiana State House and

desires to hold rallies throughout Indiana.


10.

The Tippecanoe County Courthouse is located in Lafayette, Indiana, and is the center of

government for the county, containing numerous county government offices and courts.
11.

The Tippecanoe County Courthouse is owned and operated by Tippecanoe County.

12.

The Courthouse is located on a public square between the 3rd and 4th Streets on its north

and south sides and Columbia and Main Streets on its east and west sides.

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13.

In addition to the Courthouse, the property on which the Courthouse sits includes grassy

areas outside of the courthouse building.


14.

In May of 2016, Higher Society held a rally on the grounds of the Courthouse in favor of

legalization of marijuana.
15.

Prior to the rally, a representative of Higher Society, under the impression that the

Courthouse was city, not county, property, contacted the Office of the Mayor of Lafayette to
request permission to have the rally on the grounds of the Courthouse.
16.

The Higher Society representative was directed to contact the Office of the Tippecanoe

County Commissioners to request permission as the County Commissioners control the grounds
of the Courthouse.
17.

The representative of Higher Society did so, telephoning the Office of the Tippecanoe

County Commissioners, informing the office of the date of the planned rally, May 11, 2016, and
also indicating that the group would amplify the speakers who would present at the rally and
would also amplify music. The Office of the Commissioners gave its approval.
18.

On May 11 the rally occurred on the lawn and steps of the Courthouse.

19.

Approximately 50-60 people attended the rally, although at any one time there were only

approximately 30-40 people present.


20.

During the course of the rally one of the Tippecanoe County Commissioners requested

that Higher Society turn off its sound system that was amplifying speakers and music.
21.

Higher Society personnel did so immediately, although Higher Society had been granted

permission to use the amplification.


22.

The rally lasted approximately four hours.

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23.

Following the rally the Tippecanoe County Attorney indicated the rally was approved by

mistake as the County Commissioners office erroneously believed that the rally had been
approved by the Office of the Mayor and that the County policy is that anyone wanting to hold a
rally or to conduct any event on the grounds of the Courthouse must have sponsorship by one of
the three Tippecanoe County Commissioners and the rally or event must be approved by the
Commissioners.
24.

Higher Society wishes to return to the Tippecanoe County Courthouse grounds for a rally

on June 17, 2016.


25.

Higher Society believes that it may have the constitutional right to appear on the

Courthouse grounds without notice and without permission from the County and wishes to
exercise that right.
26.

Nevertheless, to try to resolve this matter Higher Societys co-executive director sent the

attached e-mail (Exhibit 1), to each of the County Commissioners requesting permission to have
a rally for 2 hours on June 17, 2016.
27.

As noted, the rally is to be without any sound equipment.

28.

In response, the officer of Higher Society received a letter from the Tippecanoe County

Attorney (the letter, minus its attachment, is attached as Exhibit 2), specifying that the
Courthouse is a closed forum and that events can only occur there if sponsored and approved
by the County Commissioners.
29.

The letter further indicates that [n]one of the Commissioners has indicated an intent to

recommend sponsoring the event to the full Board. Absent such recommendation, the Board
would not take action to authorize use of the Courthouse grounds by your organization.

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30.

Although the Tippecanoe County Attorney characterizes the Courthouse as a closed

forum, the grounds are open for persons to enter, sit on, and eat lunch or talk with friends,
presumably without prior permission of the Commissioners. Moreover, there are benches on the
grounds where people may sit and converse and people may sit or stand in groups on the grassy
areas of the Courthouse property. There are no signs prohibiting any such activity or prohibiting
rallies or meetings on the grounds.
31.

On information and belief the grounds have frequently been used by groups to have

rallies or group meetings. The following groups have had rallies or group meetings on the
grounds of the Courthouse since June 1 of last year:
June 2, 2016 Rally of Greater Lafayette Moms in favor of gun sense
May 28, 2016 Round the Fountain art fair. This is an annual event.
April 22, 2016 Earth day celebration
December 4, 2015- Protest against Governor Pences decision to ban Syrian
refugees
September 28, 2015- Planned Parenthood rally
June 3, 2015 Candlelight vigil in honor of victims of bullying
32.

The failure of the Commissioners to allow Higher Society to rally and meet on the

grounds of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse is not reasonable and represents viewpoint
discrimination.
33.

Tippecanoe Countys apparent policy of allowing rallies or other meetings on the grounds

of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse solely at the unbridled discretion of the Tippecanoe
County Commissioners is not viewpoint neutral.
34.

Higher Society desires to meet and rally on the grounds of the Tippecanoe County

Courthouse at the earliest opportunity.


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35.

Although it designated June 17 as the preferred meeting date in its communications with

the County Commissioners, it is willing to appear at a later date.


36.

At all times defendant has acted and has failed to act under color of state law.

37.

Plaintiff is being caused irreparable harm for which there is no adequate remedy at law.

Legal claims
38.

The failure of Tippecanoe County to allow Higher Society, its members, and supporters

to meet and rally on the grounds of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse violates the First
Amendment of the United States Constitution and the policy utilized by the County to determine
whether or not to allow rallies or other meetings on the grounds of the Tippecanoe County
Courthouse violates the First Amendment.
Request for relief
WHEREFORE, Higher Society of Indiana, Inc., requests that this Court:
1.

Accept jurisdiction of this case and set it for hearing at the earliest opportunity.

2.
Declare that the actions and inactions of the defendant violate the First
Amendment for the reasons noted above.
3.
Enter a permanent injunction enjoining defendant from enforcing its policy
requiring sponsorship and approval of the Commissioners prior to any events on the
grounds of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse and enjoining the defendant from
preventing Higher Society from having an event on the Courthouse grounds.
4.

Award plaintiff its costs and reasonable attorneys fees.

5.

Award all other proper relief.

s/ Kenneth J. Falk
Kenneth J. Falk
No. 6777-49

s/ Jan P. Mensz
Jan P. Mensz
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USDC IN/ND case 4:16-cv-00043 document 1 filed 06/09/16 page 7 of 7

No. 33798-49
ACLU of Indiana
1031 E. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
317/635-4059
fax: 317/635-4105
kfalk@aclu-in.org
jmensz@aclu-in.org

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