SAUSALITO, CA - MAY 08: Cars drive northbound on the Golden Gate Bridge May, 8, 2008 in Sausalito, California. The bridge toll could rise $1 to $7 by September 2009 if the Golden Gate bridge, Highway and Transportation District board of directors approve the increase for peak travel times and on weekends and holidays. The increase would come on top of an already scheduled rise in tolls this September from $5 to $6. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The rules for protesters on the Golden Gate Bridge are an infringement on free speech, according to a federal judges.
For years, the Golden Gate Bridge District has required that protesters who wish to walk the bridge must obtain permits, can only protest during certain hours, and cannot use amplification or signs with handles, according to the Gate.
That's necessary to ensure motorists' safety, bridge officials have always claimed, although they've been a bit foggy on exactly how.
The rules have left activists with few tools at their disposal if they want a high-profile action on the bridge. Representatives of Code Pink and a Tibetan freedom activist challenged the district in court.
And now, a judge has issued a narrow ruling that the bridge must lift its time restrictions for groups of less than 50 people.
That means that the bridge may have to start allowing more groups on the bridge at all hours of the day, which is has always maintained will pose a safety violation.
The fight comes at a sensitive time for the bridge, which is considering laying off its human toll collectors and switching to an electronic system in order to save money.
And it's not over yet: the bridge retains its right to appeal the ruling.