ACLU Backing East Ridge Fortune Teller In Federal Lawsuit

Friday, October 08, 2010

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) filed a case in Federal Court in Chattanooga on Friday on behalf of an East Ridge woman "whose free speech rights were being violated because of a local city ordinance that prohibits fortune telling."

Candice Wohlfeil, spiritual counselor and East Ridge flea market vendor, began reading tarot cards at her booth in 2007. In 2008, she was informed by the city of East Ridge that she was in violation of a local ordinance which prohibits anyone from fortune-telling, the ACLU said.

When she questioned the constitutionality of the law, East Ridge City Attorney John Anderson said he would investigate and left her alone, it was stated.

Then, in September, a codes enforcer came to her booth and told her she was in violation of the ordinance and that she would be fined $500 per violation from that point forward. She had no choice but to close down her booth, the ACLU said.

Ms. Wohlfeil again contacted the city attorney. When she received no reply, she contacted the ACLU-TN.

“The First Amendment precludes the government from declaring which ideas are acceptable or not,” said ACLU-TN Cooperating Attorney Donna Roberts, of Stites & Harbison, PLLC. “Our client has the right to make predictions, whether for fun or profit, without the government discriminating against the content of her speech.”

Ms. Wohlfeil also attended a city council meeting on Sept. 9 and explained why she believed the ordinance was unconstitutional. The council stated they would get back to her on the matter, but never did. ACLU-TN tried to contact the East Ridge city attorney, but received no reply. ACLU-TN is asking for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary and permanent injunction which would allow Ms. Wohlfeil to continue operating her booth at the flea market while the court permanently resolves the constitutional issues in the local fortune-telling ordinance.

“All I want to do is practice my trade of spiritual counselor,” Ms. Wohlfeil stated. “The government is not allowed to dictate what I can and can’t say and I look forward to this being resolved so that I can get back to helping people.”

In addition to attorney Roberts, Ms. Wohlfeil is represented by Tricia Herzfeld, ACLU-TN staff attorney.

The case is Candice Wohlfeil v. The City of East Ridge.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AMINI, ROBERT ALLEN     425 425 NORTHMONT ROAD HIXSON, 37343     33     Chattanooga          DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED     IMPLIED CONSENT LAW - DRIVERS BALDWIN, ANTONIO JARQUISE     2100 CLEVELAND AVENUE ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AUSTIN, CHRISTIAN JAMES     727 E 11TH STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37402     26     Chattanooga          PUBLIC INTOXICATION BALL, CHRISTINA JEAN     1267 LEESIDE LANE HIXSON, 37343     29     Hamilton ... (click for more)

When The City Was Silent

I don't know how to say this without getting my head handed back to me on a platter as is often the usual case. But at least I no longer receive the hateful (even threatening) emails and insults I became accustomed to. So I'll just bite and say it: I honestly don't see anything expressed by the NSM that hasn't been said locally on some level at one time or another, and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: God Could Use You…

In the spring of 1968, this just before pro golfer Billy Casper would win six tournaments that year and be the leading money winner on the tour, the wildly-popular “Buffalo Bill” was in Japan playing some off-season tournaments. He was asked if he would like to visit some American soldiers who had been seriously wounded and Casper, ever the gentleman, said of course. As he melted ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy, Ooltewah Claim Softball Titles Saturday

A whole lot of high school softball was played at the Kids Club Park this weekend in Soddy Daisy, but it was District 5-AAA rivals Soddy Daisy and Ooltewah that walked away with the championship hardware. Soddy Daisy beat Wilson Central by a 3-2 final for first place in the Gold division while Ooltewah had a much easier time putting the Powell Lady Panthers down by a 10-1 final ... (click for more)

Owls Beat Pounders, 10-4, In Trojan Classic As Tune Up For District Stretch

Ooltewah and Central used their diamond matchup in the Trojan Classic on Saturday as a tune up for critical district home-and-home series on Monday and Tuesday. But the Owls left Central High’s baseball field in a slightly better mindset than the Purple Pounders about the week ahead. Ooltewah backed a complete game by sophomore C.J. Harden with a 12-hit attack and knocked ... (click for more)