Spontaneous Wedding? Stick with Vegas

June 18, 2012, by Dawn McIntosh

In Kaahumanu v. State of Hawaii, the Ninth Circuit rejected plaintiff’s constitutional challenge and upheld a regulation requiring commercial wedding vendors to obtain a permit before conducting weddings on public beaches in Hawaii.  (Click here to read the opinion in Kaahumanu v. State of Hawaii, 2012 DJDAR 7472 (9th Cir. 2012).)  The permit requirement eliminates the possibility of holding spontaneous weddings on Hawaii beaches, but the Court found there was no undue burden placed on protected speech because there no real interest in conducting such weddings in Hawaii and because it satisfied the criteria for a reasonable time, place and manner restriction on protected speech in a public forum.  The Court distinguished the case factually from its recent decision in Berger v. City of Seattle, 569 F.3d 1029 (9th Cir. 2009) where it invalidated a regulation requiring street performers to obtain permits before performing in the public grounds of the Seattle Center, in part because it precluded all spontaneous speech by performers from the Center grounds.  This decision highlights some of the limits of the Berger decision and reiterates the general rule that the constitutionality of regulations affecting protected speech is heavily dependent on the particular factual situation before the court. 

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