On September 11, the Eighth Circuit ruled that First Amendment activity cannot be banned inside a public park, just because the park that day is being used for a special purpose. Brian Johnson wanted to hand out free Bibles to persons attending the Twin Cities Pride festival, which is held annually in Loring Park, a 42-acre public park. Park Board rules said that anyone who wanted to hand out literature should rent a booth, but the Pride Festival officials refused to rent him a booth.
The Eighth Circuit opinion, Johnson v Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, 12-2419, says that the alleged reason Johnson was barred from handing out Bibles, that of keeping congestion under control, is not persuasive. The vote was 2-1. The dissenter said that Johnson was free to stand outside the park and hand out Bibles near the park entrance.
Although this case was not about petitioning, the principles it sets forth would apply equally to petitioning.