Public Buildings & Properties

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210R. Discusses the constitutionality of municipal holiday displays containing religious symbols. King v. Village of Waunakee, 185 Wis.2d 25, 517 N.W.2d 671 (1994). Updates Public Buildings and Property 210. 10/29/99.

210R1. Discusses the constitutionality of municipal holiday displays containing religious symbols including brief description of key U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Lynch v. Donnelly and Allegheny County v. ACLU, and the leading Wisconsin case, King v. Village of Waunakee, 185 Wis.2d 25, 517 N.W.2d 671 (1994). Updates Public Buildings and Property 210R 11/01/03.

210R2. Discusses the constitutionality of municipal holiday displays containing religious symbols including brief description of key U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Lynch v. Donnelly and Allegheny County v. ACLU, and the leading Wisconsin case, King v. Village of Waunakee, 185 Wis.2d 25, 517 N.W.2d 671 (1994). Updates Public Buildings and Property 210R. See also Public Utilities 328R2, Streets & Alleys  619R3. 11/01/12.

214. If land serving as public park is not encumbered by condition of gift or dedication that land be devoted exclusively to park purposes, a village can lease a portion of the land to a private individual if the village determines that the land is not needed for municipal purposes and secures a fair price for the benefit conferred. See sec. 61.34(3) and Kranjec v. City of West Allis, 267 Wis. 430, 66 N.W.2d 178 (1954). 9/30/99.

215. Municipalities that create designated public forums by allowing a large number of diverse community groups to use meeting rooms in municipal buildings for a variety of educational and cultural purposes must allow religious organizations access to use the meeting space for religious services or instruction. Policies banning the use of municipal meeting rooms for religious services or instruction should be repealed. See Pfeifer v. City of West Allis, 91 F. Supp.2d 1253, (E.D. Wis. 2000). 8/31/00.

216. Municipalities with Web sites should give careful thought as to whether it is appropriate to allow hypertext links from the municipal Web site to other sites and, if so, what kind of links should be allowed. A municipality that decides to allow some links but not others should develop a reasonable policy that is viewpoint neutral. Discusses recent federal circuit court of appeals decision which held that a city might have violated a tabloid editor's First Amendment rights by denying the tabloid a link from the City's Web page. See The Putnam Pit v. City of Cookeville, No. 98-6438 (6th Cir. July 19, 2000). 8/31/00.

217. Municipalities which allow use of public buildings for a variety of community purposes should examine policies governing such use to ensure that restrictions are reasonable and don't violate the First Amendment by impermissibly discriminating against certain viewpoints in light of U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School Dist., 508 U.S. 384 (1993), Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819 (1995) and, most recently, Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 69 U.S.L.W. 4451 (U.S. June 11, 2001). 6/30/01.

218. Municipal use policy for public facilities that identifies "civic program or activity" as permissible use, discriminates against the speech of individuals who use prayer, the singing of hymns and Bible commentary to convey their point of view on civic matters, by denying access to facility on grounds that such religious attributes transform event from civic to religious. However, a municipality would not engage in viewpoint-based discrimination if it denied permission to conduct worship services held as part of a faith's regular religious regimen and bearing no relationship to a specific civic purpose. DeBoer v. Village of Oak Park, Nos. 99-4153, 99-4226 (7th Cir. September 20, 2001). 9/30/01.

219. Generally, where property is dedicated to the public without restriction, the municipality having control of it may determine and designate the use to which it should be put. 11A McQuillin, MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS sec. 33.74, citing City of Stevens Point v. Bocksenbaum, 225 Wis. 373, 274 N.W. 505 (1937). Thus, in the absence of any restriction requiring that property owned by a city and used as a park be used for particular purposes, a city could change the property's use from a park to a police department building and parking area, despite the fact that the property has been used as a park for more than a century. 6/18/04

220. Two Counties' display of Ten Commandments in county courthouses violated Establishment Clause because Counties' primary objective in displaying Ten Commandments, which evolved from display of Ten Commandments alone to display involving other documents, was primarily religious in nature. The religious primary objective alone could be dispositive in deciding that the display violated the Establishment Clause. The Court declined to abandon or limit the "purpose" prong of the Lemon test. The evolution or development of a presentation should be considered when determining its purpose. McCreary County, Kentucky v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, 545 U.S. ___, No. 03-1693 (June 27, 2005). 5/30/05.

221. Display of Ten Commandments monument on Texas State Capitol grounds where it was surrounded by 17 other monuments and 21 historical markers and had been displayed for 40 years without prior challenge did not violate the Establishment Clause because inclusion of the Ten Commandments monument in the group of others has dual significance partaking of both religion and government. The Court stated that the Lemon test is not useful in dealing with a "passive monument" of this sort and analysis should be driven by monument's nature and nation's history which includes unbroken and historical recognition by all three branches of government of religion's role in American life. Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. ___, Case No. 03-1500 (June 27, 2005). 5/30/05.

222. Comment reviews First Amendment public forum doctrine principles which limit power of municipalities to restrict speech on public property and several decisions where courts have applied the doctrine to analyze government power to control access to Internet speech on municipal computers and manage content of municipal Web sites. 7/31/07.

223. The Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment does not create a constitutional obligation to allow religious proselytizing to captive government employee audience even though government employer previously granted access to such audience for other speakers because the Constitution recognizes a right of speakers to access government property under certain circumstances, not access to a particular audience. Milwaukee Deputy Sheriff’s Association v. David A. Clarke, Case No. 08-1515 (7th Cir. Dec. 4, 2009). 12/30/09.

224. Legal comment explains why municipalities must be mindful of the First Amendment when regulating public access to government-owned property.  Discusses how forum analysis (traditional or designated, limited public and non-public fora) dictates analysis and level of scrutiny used by court to evaluate regulations challenged on first amendment grounds and gives points on developing viewpoint neutral meeting room use policies. 9/30/10.

225. Legal comment explains why municipalities must be mindful of the First Amendment when regulating public access to government-owned property.  Discusses how forum analysis (traditional or designated, limited public and non-public forums) dictates analysis and level of scrutiny used by court to evaluate regulations challenged on first amendment grounds and discusses considerations for drafting policy guidelines to govern advertising on municipal property. 11/30/10.

226. Effective November 1, 2011, and with certain exceptions, state law does not prohibit persons with concealed carry licenses or authority to carry concealed weapons  from bringing firearms into municipal buildings unless the municipality has prohibited firearms in the building and erected  signs as required by sec. 943.13.  State law does not allow concealed carry of weapons in certain specified places, including any portion of a building that is a police department, jail, or any portion of a building that is a municipal courtroom if court is in session.  However, municipalities cannot prohibit weapons  or a firearm that does not come within the definition of weapons in vehicles kept in parking lots or parking facilities. 8/31/11.

227. Summarizes DOJ publication explaining the requirements in sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design which require local governments to provide accessible entry and exit to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. The deadline for complying was extended for 60 days from March 15, 2012 to May 21, 2012. 3/31/12.

228.  Reviews requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities and requires public entities to ensure that all of their programs, services, and activities, when viewed in their entirety, are accessible to people with disabilities and make reasonable modifications to policies to accommodate service animals and mobility devices. Mentions 2010 standards for accessible design requirements for recreational facilities effective March 15, 2012. 03/08/17