The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday declared unconstitutional a Michigan State University ordinance under which a student was convicted following a 2008 dispute over a parking ticket. In the 5-to-2 ruling, the court’s majority, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision, said that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it “criminalizes a substantial amount of constitutionally protected speech.”
The ordinance made it an offense to “disrupt the normal activity” of a university employee performing his duty. The Michigan court called that policy “overbroad” on its face, in that it had been written such that people on the campus could be prosecuted in “seemingly infinite ways.”
The case stemmed from a confrontation between Jared S. Rapp, who was ticketed for parking his Land Rover at an expired meter, and Ricardo Rego, a parking attendant. When Mr. Rapp vehemently disputed that the meter had expired, shouting and taking pictures of Mr. Rego with his cellphone, the attendant summoned campus police officers.
Mr. Rapp, who is now a lawyer in Illinois, won dismissal of the parking ticket, but he was convicted of violating the ordinance. A subsequent court ruling, however, overturned the conviction. Friday’s decision reversed an appellate court that had restored Mr. Rapp’s conviction.
A university spokesman told a reporter for the MLive Web site that Michigan State was reviewing the decision “with an eye toward what changes are needed to ensure the ordinance meets the court’s ruling.”