First Amendment Right of Free Speech

First Amendment Activities

The National Park Service has long recognized freedom of speech, press, religion and public assembly. However, the courts have held that certain activities associated with exercising these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect park resources and the public’s legitimate use of the park’s resources.
First Amendment activities may require a Special Use Permit in advance of the activity and the park may regulate the time, place and manner of the activity in accordance with law.
The necessity of a permit to conduct First Amendment activities is determined by the group size, event location and special needs.
A small group is defined as “25 people or less.” A “small group” is not required to obtain a Special Use Permit if they are located within the designated First Amendment Assembly Area (see link to map below) and have no more than leaflets, booklets and/or handheld signs. A permit is required for any small group that:
  • Wants to hold a demonstration or distribute and/or sell printed matter outside the designated First Amendment Assembly Area.
  • Wants to use equipment (i.e. tables, banners, platforms, etc.) even if it is within the designated area.
  • Is merely the extension of another group already availing itself of the 25 person maximum.
  • Wants to guarantee that they will have priority for the use of a location, including the designated First Amendment Assembly Area.
A large group is defined as “more than 25 people” and is required to obtain a Special Use Permit even if they are utilizing the designated First Amendment Assembly Area.
Special examples of activities that fall under First Amendment rules include the following:
  • Distribution of printed matter
  • Political speeches
  • Religious services
  • Public assemblies
  • Collecting signatures for petitions
All requests for similar activities are treated equally. As long as permit criteria and requirements are met, no group wishing to assemble lawfully will be discriminated against or denied the right of assembly.
When permits are issued for First Amendment activities, there are no fees or costs, and no insurance is required for the activities. To download the application form, click here.
The park has set aside a First Amendment Assembly Area for these activities. To download a copy of the map, click here.
Please contact the park for assistance and/or additional information at 509-522-6360.

Last updated: September 20, 2017

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328 Whitman Mission Road
Walla Walla, WA 99362


(509) 522-6360

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