Baker County StandardMacclenny, Florida
February 21, 1996
by Jack Draisey
For the Rainbows, a Constitution matter is issue behind gathering
For the Rainbow Family, the matter at issue is the First
Amendment to the Constitution: The Congress shall make no
law...abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble...
They feel that it is their First Amendment right to gather
on publicly-owned land.
The Forestry Service's attempt to impose a permit
restriction on anyone, they feel, is in direct violation ofthe
The latest version of the Forestry Service permit law is
that groups above 75 persons must apply for a permit.
The Rainbows are not just a group of unorganized rabble-
rousers professing some ethereal ideal -- they are organized and
fight within the legal system to maintain their right toghether,
and have plenty of experience with this particular battle.
The latest round has been issued by the United States
District Court of Jacksonville and is titled "United States of
America v. The Rainbow Family, et al." descrived as a "loosely-
knit organization of persons who gather together in the national
forests to celebrate peace and harmony with nature and one
Already faxes have gone back and forth to Washington, D.C.
as well as to the attorneys representing the Rainbows in response
to this action.
The United States District Court Middle District of Florida
has given the Rainbows the option of having their case heard
before a local magistrate, as they do all civil cases, but they
will have none of that. They plan, once again, to have their
hearing at the federal level.
The two previous cases that have been brought against them -
- one in 1984 and again in 1987 -- gave gone before federal
judges who ruled in their favor both times. They were criminal
actions, whereas the latest is a civil case.
The Forestry Service has sinngled out the Rainbows with this
permit requirement, according to "Bullwinkle," a Disabled
American Vet who has been among the Rainbows from its outset.
Each time they win a case in court, the Forestry Service changes
the regulations somewhat so that previous rulings no longer
apply. "First it was a permit for 25 people, then 50 people, now
it's 75." He stated that their battles with government
restrictions are on behalf of all people.
The permit requires no fee, but retains the option of
denying the application to any group. The Rainbows feel that
the government has no right to require the permits, much less
deny any applications to anyone to gather on public lands.
The First Aemendment affects everyone, according to
Bullwinkle, "this permit requirement to freely gather currently
includes anyone, whether it be the local baptist church, the Boy
Scouts, or the K.K.K. from gathering without applying for the
The latest actions against the Rainbows is a test case to
see if the permit requirements are constitutional. It is a civil
action suing the Rainbows to comply with "group use regulations."
Part ofthe "Relief Requested" is that the plaintiff (the
United States) prays that the court declare that the plaintiff's
group use regulations comply with the First Amendment of the
United States Constitution and are otherwise legally valid.
In other words, the plaintiff's are requesting that the
court rule that their group use regulations are valid in regards
to the First Amendment.
If this is ruled legal, then the plaintiff wants an
injunction against the "Rainbows, their officers, employees,
agents, servants, contractors, attorneys, and all those acting in
concert with them" from gathering in any national forest in
violation of the group use regulations.
If ruled in their favor, the Rainbows will continue to
gather on publicly-owned land as they have since 1972 when the
group was formed.
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