Local Democrats who wanted to gather near Hofstra University’s campus during tomorrow night’s presidential debate have been denied a parade permit. Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Joel Asarch (See Profile) on Oct. 11 dismissed an Article 78 petition filed by the Town of Hempstead Democratic Committee, which complained that its members’ right to assembly had been violated by town officials. The committee asked the Nassau County Police Department in August for a permit to show its support for President Barack Obama on Hempstead Turnpike at or near the entrance to the campus from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 16. The committee claimed the police sent them to the town clerk’s office, where they were refused an application because the police had “suggested” that no permits be issued. Complaining that they had been forced to run a “circular gauntlet,” the Democrats petitioned the court to direct officials to issue a permit.
But Justice Asarch ruled in Town of Hempstead Democratic Committee v. Nassau County Police Department, 11790/2012, that there was no proof the committee had ever filed a written application for a permit, meaning they did not show they had exhausted their administrative remedies. In any case, he said his decision would have been no different even if the committee had been refused an application for a permit. “The Court cannot find that restricting access to areas of the debate site or, with thousands of demonstrators expected in the area, declining to permit Petitioner to have ‘a reserved spot’ on the south side of Hempstead Turnpike, is either arbitrary or capricious,” the judge said, pointing out that a nearby area has been set aside with a podium and sound system so the public can express their views.
Gary Carlton of Goldberg & Carlton, who represented the committee, said it would not appeal the ruling. “We are going to end up with the visibility we originally sought,” he said.