RICHMOND, Va. -– West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro wants the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn a district court order finding a ban on solicitation in state parks unconstitutional.
On July 1, Jezioro appealed District Judge John Preston Bailey's June 3 decision that a law against solicitation in parks violates the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.
Bailey's ruling favored Constitution Party leaders who sought to circulate petitions at National Hunting and Fishing Days in Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park.
Park rangers chased party leaders away from the event in 2007.
Party leaders sued Jezioro, who responded that they should have applied for a permit like other exhibitors at the event.
Bailey disagreed, ruling that no one needs a permit to solicit in any park on any day.
He found that the ban acted as prior restraint on expression in a public forum.
He wrote that a regulation under the law vested the Division of Natural Resources with unlimited discretion to grant or deny a permit.
"The regulation thus burdens a large quantity of speech and subjects all potential speakers to the whim of the director of the DNR," he wrote.
Joseph Wallace and John Wallace of Elkins represent the Constitution Party in association with the Rutherford Institute of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Keith Gamble of Morgantown represents Jezioro.