2007_01_sharpie2.jpgThe 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that allows people between 18 and 21 years to buy spray paint and broad-tipped markers. Yes, the city has been trying to block the sale of things that might lead to graffiti for over the year, but the law was so nutty that District Judge George Daniels stopped the city's ban until the issue could be further looked into.

Well, the 2nd Circuit wrote that the city's anti-graffiti laws "appear to burden substantially more speech than is necessary to achieve the city's legitimate interest in preventing illegal graffiti." Art students had complained that this city's new law would have prevented them from buying supplies, but the city unsuccessfully tried to argue that friends or older relatives could buy the products for them.

The city's lawyer Scott Shorr said, "The city enacted the new anti-graffiti restrictions as a tool for reducing graffiti vandalism by young adults, not to limit lawful artistic expression. Of course, the city will continue its efforts to combat the blight of illegal graffiti." We don't doubt that! The City Council considered banning the sale of spray paint in 2005. (The sale of etching acid, though, is still banned.)

Marc Ecko is the one who sued the city over the law last year; back then, City Council Peter Vallone told amNY, "Its unfortunate the these kids are being used as pawns by corporations in pursuit of profits. This is a minor bump in the road to a cleaner city. We haven't presented our case and once we do I'm sure the judge will see the necessity for this law."

Update: Here is Councilman Vallone's statement:

"This ruling is a win for the criminals, but it's not over yet and the good guys arent going away," said Peter Vallone Jr., Chairman of the City Council's Public Safety Committee. "It's patently absurd for the court to say that this law didn't have a rational basis when almost 20 percent of all graffiti arrests are 18-20 year olds. It's your typical 'ivory tower' ruling."