Free Speech

"Car Parades, Cruises, and Joyriding" "Are NOT Prohibited," at Least in Osage County, Kansas

And they would, I think, be peaceable assembly protected by the First Amendment, even in a time of epidemic.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From the County's page:

Q: Are car parades, cruises, and joyriding prohibited?

A: No, they are NOT prohibited by any stay at home order issued by the Osage County Health Department. In addition, according to guidance issued by the Adjutant General, the Governor's stay at home order does not prohibit "joyriding, cruising or parades" so long as the "occupants of the vehicle reside in the same residence and vehicles do not stop and congregate."

The Kansas Justice Institute / Kansas Policy Institute helped bring that about, and it does seem to me that a total ban on parades, including car parades, would likely be unconstitutional: It wouldn't leave open any alternative channels for public assembly, and it wouldn't be necessary to serve a compelling government interest (given that people driving in cars with closed windows seem quite unlikely to infect each other).

Of course, some content-neutral regulations would still be permitted, for instance to keep the slow-moving parade from tying up traffic during rush hour; but that's generally true of any large parade that risks tying up traffic.

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  1. I thought “joyriding” was the unauthorized use of a car to drive around in that didn’t belong to you, and it was the stuff of juvenile delinquency.

    1. We’re not in Kansas, totodoc.

    2. Me too. That’s the only definition I’ve ever heard for the term. It must mean something different in Kansas.

      1. Isn’t rush hour a slow moving parade? Maybe a good mental exercise for road rangers when rush hours return. “Look Ma, I am in a parade”.

  2. There is no alternative to public assembly beyond getting on a vehicle and going on the roads in one or two lines? Surely Kansas has green space. Or maybe tan space.

    1. Yes there are other options, but they were not included in the question.

  3. A “slow moving parade from tying up traffic during the rush hour”?
    Have you been driving around lately?

  4. “rush hour”

    Remember when that was a thing?

    1. I know it’s a thing of the past for now. Nevertheless, the other day I had an appointment to give blood and was about 40 minutes early (normally I would target to be about 10 minutes early) because my mental clock has yet to factor in what, just two months ago, was near gridlock is now open sailing with only a few cars in sight.

      I hope the “Stay In Place” orders end soon as once I get my mental clock adjusted to SIP Traffic, I’ll be late to every appointment for the following three months…

  5. An interesting point from the recent Alaska COVID-19 state mandates: quarantine enforcement is primarily achieved by prosecuting violators under the state’s reckless endangerment statute. However, how high of a likelihood of carrying a disease does someone need to have in order to be guilty of “recklessly endangering” the public? COVID–19 currently has a fatality rate for healthy people under 40 nearly 1/4 that of car fatalities, and 1/100 that of motorcycle fatalities (assuming the person were to either drive 15mi daily or ride 15mi daily).

    How “deadly” does a disease have to be that simply walking around without a positive diagnosis could constitute reckless endangerment? Do states have some sort of responsibility to outline exactly how “dangerous” a reckless action has to be, and does that danger probability have to be quantified, or merely pre-supposed as in the case of COVID-19-related prosecution directives?

    1. It’s time to rebel — the British were nice people compared to the Nazis of today.

      1. You want is to rebel in a similar manner to what we did to the British?

        Also, I can think of a few pretty big differences between Kansas here and what the Nazis did.

        1. In 1933?

          You do know they didn’t do everything in the first two months they were in power, don’t you?

          1. Yeah, you call people Nazis, they don’t think about 1933. Stop being so silly.

            1. People tend to forget that the Nurenburg Laws didn’t arrive until 1935, although I doubt you even know what they were…

              1. Off topic insults. What the crap does that have to do with anything?

                You say Nazis, you know what people think about. Pretending otherwise is silly. Which you have proven to be on this blog; a very silly man.

      2. So much for just reporting people are going to get hurt, and not wishing for violence, eh?

        1. Rebel does not inherently mean violently, and people already are being hurt. Every percent increase in the unemployment rate corresponds to an increase in both the suicide and drug overdose rates.

          1. You said rebel in the same breath as you cited the British. You are not very good at playing coy.

            And comparing a past sociological correlation with a current physiological fact continues to be some weak-ass rationalization, especially as you. call. for. violence.

            1. To this day, we don’t know which side fired first at Lexington.

              1. We know which side rebelled. And what rebellion entailed. What kind of coward are you, that advocates for revolutionary violence, Nazi reffs and all, and then tries to fade like you didn’t?

          2. So what form of non-violent rebellion are you advocating, then?

      3. Open wider, Dr. Ed.

        Your betters will continue to shove progress down your throat; you will continue to comply.

        Republican efforts — the Conspirators’ ramblings in particular — might provide some comfort to you, but they can’t improve your fate. The culture war is lost for clingers.

        You get to “rebel” — moan and mutter and whimper and sputter — all you like, though.

        1. The Holocaust could have been stopped in the first few months. Later, it was too late.

          1. You’re offering the half-educated, belligerently ignorant clinger — bravely attending a church service conducted by the likes of a Tony Spell (or, at least until last week, Gerald Glenn) — as a modern Rosa Parks?

    2. Turd, what does, “a fatality rate for healthy people under 40,” have to do with anything? Really. Please explain what point you were attempting to imply when you wrote that.

      Also, given that a single carrier of coronavirus may potentially kill many people (with victim numbers ranging from none to thousands) as a result of only one or a few preventable interactions, there seem to be at least two inferences which require consideration:

      1. No, the danger can’t be usefully quantified.

      2. But yes, the danger is self-evidently far too high to dismiss.

    3. To answer your question: I am deeply skeptical that simply violating the order would meet the elements of the statute, and I would be surprised if the state made any serious effort to advance that theory in court.

  6. They tried doing a “Cruising Douglas-Quarantine Edition” event here in Wichita. Police ended up shutting it down due to a bunch of folks driving recklessly:

    https://www.kwch.com/content/news/Wichita-police-shut-down-Cruise-Douglas-event-after-reckless-driving-racing-burnouts-569573391.html

  7. Well, obviously everyone in Kansas is going to die now.

  8. In my town, these parades serve as alternatives for kids’ birthday parties. Kids from multiple families pack into an assortment of the biggest available SUVs, filling all the seats. They put a fire truck out front with the siren going, and then drive slowly through town and past the house where the birthday kid is standing out front. The kid out front is surrounded by all the closest friends, plus the extended family.

    Then, as each car goes by, the procession pauses, the birthday mom chats a moment with the driver mom, window down, then the next car, pause, and the next car, pause, etc. Then the parade is gone, and the 30–40 actual birthday party participants commence celebration on the lawn.

    Leastwise, that is what happened 6 days ago on my block. I think stuff like that is all completely predictable, so I don’t understand why it is permissible assembly. Does the law forbid consideration of practical implications? It’s your right, even though everyone knows no one will either heed social distancing, or enforce it? Policy can’t legally take any account of that?

    1. That evokes that Idaho yard sale report. A woman had tables of items in her front yard, told police she was merely ‘sorting.’ Then she was found selling, asked if she could just ‘sell something to a person who had stopped’ but assured the officer it was no yard sale. Then the police found her Craigslist advertisement for a week-long yard sale, found her selling — which is when she complained that a relative died and she was selling her things because she wanted cash. She received a written warning, which she ignored. When cited, she found a clinger with a law license to advocate for her God-given right to conduct a yard sale during a pandemic.

      She used the ‘I have six children’ excuse; I’d say her lies and stupidity are a poor example for children. Perhaps the better lesson for her children would involve accountability imposed by law enforcement.

      1. Law enforcement ought not be surprised to see its budget slashed in the near future.

        That’s how accountability to the citizens works….

        1. Most citizens, from the polling I have observed, support the pandemic-related restrictions that have been promulgated.

          Why would citizen majorities flatter disaffected minorities by cutting law enforcement budgets?

      2. Will no one rid us of this arch criminal?

    2. In my town, these parades serve as alternatives for kids’ birthday parties, except that none of the things Lathrop described happen. People drive past the house while the kid sits out front of his house. They don’t get out of cars, they don’t walk up to the cars, and there’s no extended family or friends or lawn celebration.

      1. That sees to be the (new) local custom here as well.

      2. I get it. Defense attorney says it didn’t happen, so prove it. Proof is, I saw it happen.

        1. Oops, sorry. DN is saying his town is different than mine. So what I see doesn’t apply to his town. Got it.

          1. Correct; my point was not that what you said you saw didn’t happen — I mostly apply that standard to Dr. Ed — but just that it’s not some universal phenomenon, and therefore your argument that it’s completely predictable is misplaced. I would not have predicted people would do that based on my experience.

  9. “guidance issued by the Adjutant General”

    Interesting that this office issues health guidance.

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