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.


Bradley County SPCA Board Addresses Allegations Of Unanswered Calls

During a Monday afternoon Bradley County Commission meeting, a representative from the sheriff's department said that there were 266 emergency calls unanswered by the SPCA regarding animals. Later Monday evening, the SPCA Board addressed the allegations. SPCA Board President Ed Elkins said, "No one from the SPCA Board had heard about this." President Elkins also pointed ... (click for more)

Bradley County Commission Weighs Using ICC Building Codes

Bradley County Commissioner Charlotte Peak urged the commission to think before possibly voting to opt out of using state approved ICC building codes. She said, "If we opt out, we might as well kiss all of these grants goodbye that we've ever applied for." She also said not adopting state codes would make Bradley County ineligible for FEMA assistance and many future grants. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UT Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet!

Just moments before Florida would seal a football 10-9 victory over Tennessee in early October, the student section in Neyland Stadium stooped to a new low when it vociferously chanted, “F*** you, Florida! F*** you, Florida!” It was shocking, a loud and vulgar display of all that sportsmanship isn’t, and served as a great embarrassment to Knoxville and the university. Jimmy Cheek, ... (click for more)

Tennessee Wastes No Time Shifting Attention To Alabama

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – L ittle time had passed following Tennessee's 34-3 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday night before the challenge that lies ahead this week crossed the mind of the UT staff. In past years, a loss of that type could have had a lasting impact on the psyche of the team. But  Tennessee coach Butch Jones   still sees his team progressing, both mentally ... (click for more)

Ooltewah's Riley Hickman: 2-for-2 Wins At Cleveland And Talladega

The “Hustler” Riley Hickman of Ooltewah hunkered down this weekend and picked up a pair of wins in Dirt Track competition. Friday night the # R1 “Hickman Manufacturing, American Billett, Austin Trucking, Tucker Mobile Home Service, Allstar Graphics, VP Racing Fuels, RH Designs, Competition Racing Equipment, A-1 Towing, MRC” sponsored CVR / Vic Hill powered machine ... (click for more)