On April 29, 2022, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Harrisburg, alleging that the city violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments by forcing climate activists to navigate a burdensome and expensive permitting process in order to hold a festival and peaceful march.

Better Path Coalition, a group of climate activists and organizations from across Pennsylvania, was planning three days of events in Harrisburg in June 2022, including a festival, a march, and a rally at the state capitol.

During the permitting process, the group found that the city of Harrisburg imposed what they felt were unconstitutional restrictions on a public gathering. While the ACLU-PA was able to resolve the issues some of the issues, the city of Harrisburg continued to insist that Better Path Coalition cover the cost of traffic control during the events, obtain expensive insurance, agree to indemnify Harrisburg for any damage including that caused by people beyond the coalition’s control, and assorted other conditions beyond their capability.

The lawsuit asks the court to order Harrisburg to block the city’s enforcement of its permitting system, including the remaining fees.

On February 2, 2024, the case was updated in federal court as the coalition plans a similar event for 2024. 


Steve Loney and Witold Walczak of the ACLU of Pennsylvania

Date filed

April 29, 2022


United States Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania