No Discourse Here

Ban on political groups


Annoyed by criticism from a local political group, the Gould, Arkansas, city council decided to wish it away. In June the body passed an ordinance abolishing the Gould Citizens Advisory Council, which it accused of "causing confusion and discourse among the citizens." 

The town government also forbade Mayor Earnest Nash Jr., a member of the irksome group, to meet "any organization in any location," whether "inside or outside Gould city limits," without the city council's permission. For good measure, Gould's legislators declared "no new organizations shall be allowed to exist in the City of Gould without approval from a majority of the City Council." Nash vetoed all three bills, but in July the city council voted to override him.

"I've seen some humdingers," Arkansas Municipal League General Counsel Mark Hayes told The New York Times, "but never any ordinance like this." Calling the restrictions on freedom of association "blatantly unconstitutional," Nash reported that "for the most part, people are just ignoring them." According to the Times, Councilwoman Sonya Farley "said she would probably vote to rewrite the ordinances with more constitutionally sensitive wording."