Resident plans to sue City of Tucson for violating First Amendment

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees a citizen's right to "petition the government for a redress of grievances," in other words, the right to complain about something you don't like.

There is concern some rules being enforced at Tucson City Council meetings may be trampling a bit on that right.

Every week during Tucson City Council meetings the audience gets a chance to speak.

Mayor Bob Walkup says there hasn't been a major issue until last week.

Roy Warden is said to have broken a rule the mayor put in place 15 minutes before Roy was escorted out.  The rule calls for respect when speaking to mayor and council during the call to the audience.

"It has just gotten increasingly more disrespectful and disruptive and so I thought the time had come," said Mayor Bob Walkup.

Councilman Steve Kozachik was sitting next to the mayor when the incident occurred.  He says the Mayor cut Warden off too early.

"For us to be telling the Mayor that he has the right to judge whether or not someone's speech is appropriate based on whether or not it offends him, to me crosses the line," said Councilman Steve Kozachik.

A line that Warden says, violated his rights.  He says he plans to sue the city.

"They violated my rights.  It won't be the first time they've done it, I think it might be the last time they do it.  In any event, yes, I will sue them for violation of my rights," said resident Roy Warden.

The city council plans to discuss the issue as part of their agenda tomorrow.  Mayor Walkup has been assured by the city attorney, they are not in violation of first amendment rights. Kozachik feels the rule's wording is too broad.

"I have asked Mike Rankin the city attorney to justify to us the language that we have-- that it is not overly broad-- and the court won't come in and say, 'You know what, a reasonable could not interrupt that,'" said Kozachik.

Warden plans to be at Tuesday's discussion and hopes for another chance to speak.