The Legalities of Fortune Telling in Nebraska

I was browsing this morning and came across an interesting page dealing with the legalities of ‘fortune telling’, of which I’m posting an excerpt here with a link to the page at the bottom of this blog.  I found this particular section interesting mostly because it deals with the state of Nebraska and a lawsuit that had been brought against a psychic in Lincoln.  Read on…

In a 1998 Nebraska case, Argello v. City of Lincoln (143 F.3d 1152 (8th Cir. 1998)), the appellate court upheld a lower court decision that the ordinance was an unconstitutional limitation of the plaintiff’s rights under the First Amendment. Here’s the city’s ordinance.

It shall be unlawful for any person to exercise, carry on, advertise, or engage in the business or profession of clairvoyancy, palmistry, phrenology, mind reading, fortunetelling, or any other business, profession, or art of revealing or pretending to reveal past or future events in the life of another.

Said the Court,

“The ordinance is a content-based regulation of speech. As such, it can be upheld only if it is supported by a compelling state interest. No such interest appears here. If the citizens of Lincoln wish to have their fortunes told, or to believe in palm- reading or phrenology, they are free to do so under our system of government, and to patronize establishments or “professionals” who purport to be versed in such arts. Government is not free to declare certain beliefs – for example, that someone can see into the future – forbidden. Citizens are at liberty to believe that the earth is flat, that magic is real, and that some people are prophets.” Read the entire opinion here (via FindLaw; registration may be required, free).

To see the article in its entirety, follow the url below:

http://lpcprof.typepad.com/law_and_magic_blog/2007/07/may-a-municipal.html