City Tries to Shut Down Sidewalk Art Sellers

February 3, 2014 | Andy Cush

Last year, a federal court upheld that New York City can limit the number of artists who are allowed to sell work in public places like Battery Park and Union Sauare. A group of activists are fighting that decision, and have asked the Supreme Court to hear their case, but the city is vying to shut their petition down.

The plaintiffs’ case rests on the idea that the anti-artist court decision is inconsistent with other courts’ rulings on similar matters, but the city argues otherwise. “It is beyond dispute that neither the United States nor the State Constitutions guarantee a person the right ‘to communicate one’s views at all times and places and in any manner that may be desired,” reads a portion of the city’s brief. “‘While ample alternatives must be available, speakers are not guaranteed ‘access to every or even the best channels or locations for their expression.”

The whole saga raises the question: was Banksy’s sidewalk art sale in October every bit as illegal as his street work?

(Photo: Henrique Pinto)