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: ALCANTARA, MARCUS ANTONIO  4409 DAYTON BLVD RED BANK, 37415  Age at Arrest: 27 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga FAILURE TO APPEAR --- BACHAND, DION THOMAS  3409 LISA DRIVE APT. A EAST RIDGE, 37412  Age at Arrest: 27 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County EVADING ARREST ... (click for more)

Anturaum Dickey, 36, Arrested For Federal Warrants In Cleveland

Anturaum Montazz Dickey, 36, of Cleveland was taken into custody on federal warrants at a Blount Avenue residence by members of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office’s Fugitive Team, backed up by deputies from BCSO, on a tip provided by members of the United States Marshal’s Service.   An additional charge has been filed on Dickey for possessing a Serbian AK-47 style rifle, ... (click for more)

Who's Responsible For East Ridge's Stadium? - And Response

There just can be no excuse for East Ridge High School's stadium being in such dangerous condition that it has been condemned.   Where is responsible for this? I know there are a few other stadiums like this as well. And there is no excuse for this.  Building new and beautiful schools, state of the art technology. Top athletic facilities as well. Yet, East Ridge ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Barners Trounce Who?

There is a website known as Grammarly that just completed a profound study. An automated proof-reading company (who I hope never finds out about me) collected 100 comments that each included over 50 words from the comment blogs of the nation’s preseason Top 25 college football teams. Then they fed them into the company’s huge algorithm computer and checked each fan base for punctuation, ... (click for more)

East Ridge Football: Home Side Stands Are Closed ... Four Home Games Will Be Played on Campus

The home side football stands and press box at East Ridge High School are closed permanently due to safety issues, but for the 66 teenagers who wear the orange, white and gray for the Pioneers on Friday nights it’s a small distraction and the season continues. “Playing this Friday’s game against Signal Mountain at Baylor (7:30 p.m.) is a small distraction for us, but we know ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Sweeps Red Bank In Volleyball

Signal Mountain coach Jennifer Redman was not a very happy young lady last week when Notre Dame came up and took a 3-1 volleyball win in the Lady Eagles' gym. She knows she has an experienced team with more than her share of talent, but they just hadn't been playing like it to start the season. The veteran coach was somewhat happier Wednesday night after her team took a non-district ... (click for more)