City Government
9:37 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Texas Civil Rights Project Taking Banning Case

The City of San Antonio’s banning of two residents from city hall and the city council chambers are going to be challenged in court.

The Texas Civil Rights Project has decided to take the case of Michael Cuellar, who was banned from City Hall and city council meetings by SAPD and City Attorney Michael Bernard.

Cuellar and John Foddrill, who was also banned from city buildings, are at the center of a debate about first amendment rights to petition the government.

"The whole idea of banning people indefinitely from addressing council or talking to their elected representatives is clearly unconstitutional," said James Harrington, project director for the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Harrington said he has litigated a similar case in Austin and won.

“The laws are very very clear that anytime anyone is excluded it can only be for a very good reason – a very narrow period of time – and you have to have an appellate process,” he said.

Harrington said he expects to file the case soon in federal court – and seek an immediate lifting of the ban. Bernard says the city put the ban in place to protect its employees from danger and harassment.