The Party Sticker

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The town of Narragansett, Rhode Island can continue to place large orange stickers (right) on the doors of houses in the community, almost exclusively occupied by University of Rhode Island students, that have large parties. According to an article by Katie Mulvaney in the Providence Journal:

A federal appeals court Wednesday ruled constitutional Narragansett’s controversial policy of plastering orange stickers on the front doors of houses deemed a nuisance by the police. The University of Rhode Island Student Senate and landlords in the seaside community had challenged the stickers — referred to as “scarlet letters” by angry students — as overly broad and in violation of their constitutional rights.

But a three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down those arguments in upholding U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith’s decision last year that the students and landlords had failed to show that Narragansett’s ordinance trampled on protected liberties or property rights.

Students, represented by an ACLU lawyer, complained that the residents didn’t have an opportunity to challenge a sticker before police put it on their door. The presence of the sticker, whether accurate assigned to a house or not, effectively prevented them from being able to live in the town.

“This is a codswallop pure and simple,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Bruce Selya. “The ordinance does not prevent anyone from living anywhere.”

At the same time, however, it remains unclear whether or not the orange sticker policy, which has been in place since 2005, has reduced the number of loud parties occurring in Narragansett.

Under the town ordinance, according to the article, police place stickers on houses that disturb “’the quiet enjoyment’ of a neighborhood through unlawful conduct, such as excessive noise, public drunkenness or illegal parking.” Residents face a fine if they take the stickers down before the URI school year ends in the middle of May. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer