As reported by Katie Mulvaney in the September 13, 2010 edition of the Providence Journal, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is coming to Rhode Island. The Boston based 1st Circuit Court of Appeals will be conducting oral arguments at the Roger Williams University School of Law next month. The three panel court includes Judge Thompson, a former judge of the Rhode Island Superior Court.
The Judges will hear the case involving the University of Rhode Island (URI) Student Senate v. the Town of Narragansett. The case involves an ordinance passed by the Narragansett Town Council regarding "party houses." Pursuant to Sec. 46-31 of the Narragansett Town Ordinance "a gathering of five or more persons on any private property in a manner which constitutes a substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private or public property in a significant segment of a neighborhood, as a result of conduct constituting a violation of law," is a public nuisance. Public drunkenness, serving alcohol to minors and excessive noise are all examples of illegal activity. The ordinance allows the police to place a sticker on any house that is found to be violating the ordinance and fine violators.
The students at URI challenged the ordinance with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), arguing it violates their right to gather. This case has already been argued at the lower U.S. District Court level and the Court ruled in favor of the town of Narragansett.