ACLU Backing East Ridge Fortune Teller In Federal Lawsuit

Friday, October 8, 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

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AMEY, ANTHONY GEORGE  5245 LOMNICK CHATTANOOGA, 37410  Age at Arrest: 26 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga RECKLESS DRIVING DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE SEAT BELT LAW VIOLATION --- BARNETT, PRINTICE JAMES  5004 CAMERON AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37411  Age at ... (click for more)

Cynthia Stanley-Cash Says District 5 Stagnating; VRI Is Not Working

City Council District 5 candidate Cynthia Stanley-Cash said the district has not experienced economic and community development for many years. She also said that the city's Violence Reduction Initiative is not working and many citizens in the district feel it should be disbanded. Ms. Stanley-Cash said, "I was born in Chattanooga and have lived here all my life, by choice.  ... (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jumoke’s Thuggery Ends

Jumoke Johnson, the most notorious criminal in Chattanooga’s recent history, was killed by a rain of bullets in the 2100 block of East 12 th Street at little after 8 o’clock Friday night and for the many of us who have kept up with the 23-year-old, you wonder how he ever lasted this long. He was aptly proclaimed as the “most dangerous man” to ever have been sentenced in Chattanooga’s ... (click for more)

Tullahoma Nips East Hamilton For Central Mat Title

The annual Central Invitational wrestling tournament was cancelled two weeks ago by the threat of inclement weather, but they were able to get it in on Saturday and it was a battle to the wire for the team championship. Luke Champion was the individual winner at 285 pounds and it was his victory that lifted the Tullahoma Wildcats to the team title as they finished the day-long ... (click for more)

Father Ryan Rallies To Beat Soddy Daisy

The Soddy Daisy Trojans may have been embarrassed over a lopsided whipping they took at the hands of the Bradley Bears Thursday night in Cleveland, but they came out with fire in their eyes Friday night in a dual meet with Father Ryan. The host Trojans had a seemingly-comfortable 32-22 lead with three matches remaining, but the Purple Irish won all three -- including two with ... (click for more)