ACLU Favors “Free to Pee” as a Right

In State College, Pennsylvania, the ACLU has objected to a “nuisance party ordinance” in a college town, that would place responsibility on a party host if guests of 10 or more engaged in public urination or other crimes outside. The ACLU claims that such consequences are protected by the First Amendment’s freedom of association clause.

Some of the facts for this article, but none of the legal conclusions, come from an article in the website of the Centre Daily Times on 8 December 2009, about the delay of consideration of an anti-nuisance ordinance in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. The local ACLU wrote a letter to the local Council, threatening to sue them unless they withdrew the ordinance.

The ordinance was patterned on ones passed in several small towns across the nation, which are home to large universities. As the article says, “The ordinance would subject the hosts of parties of 10 or more people to a fine of up to $600 if the party results in illegal activities such as underage drinking, public drunkenness, lewdness, public urination and criminal mischief.”

The ACLU letter of objection claims that such an ordinance raises First Amendment and due process concerns. The ACLU claimed that. “Punishing people for crimes they neither committed themselves nor had any intent to facilitate violates fundamental due process rights.”

The City of Bloomsburg, home of Bloomsburg University, has had such an ordinance for several years, without challenge. Local officials there say it has been effective. In Ohio, the City of Bowling Green, home to Bowling Green University, has had a nuisance party ordinance since 2004. The local prosecutor says it has been effective in limiting overly large parties, and out of control parties.

The ACLU’s claim that the party hosts involved had no intent to cause illegal conduct is dealt with by the logic of drunk driving prosecutions. The driver may argue that he did not intend to run down a pedestrian. But he did intend to get drunk and he did intend to get behind the wheel. Injuring or killing a pedestrian is the logical consequence of what he did intend to do.

Common sense also enters into the equation. If the young guests at any party know that their friend, the host, may be arrested and fined if they engage in public urination or such, they may restrain their behavior. In short, the position of the ACLU is not only legally wrong, it is logically absurd. No part of the Constitution gives anyone a basic right to urinate on other peoples lawns.

That the ACLU even asserts such a right reveals its negative attitude about the Constitution itself.

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