A New York City criminal court judge has refused to dismiss charges against two men for selling novelty condoms bearing political messages without obtaining a street vendor’s license.
Although the condom wrappers featured messages about President Barack Obama and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the judge found that such expression was predominantly commercial in nature and not entitled to an exception in the license law for newspapers, books and other written material.
City officials had charged Thomas Larsen and Edward Waddle for selling condoms on the street without a license for the company Practice Safe Policy. Police observed Larsen selling “Obama condoms” and “Palin condoms” the corner of Broadway and Canal Streets. Court papers did not specify the part played by Waddle, whose case was consolidated with Larsen's.
One of the wrappers showed a picture of the president with the message, “HOPE IS NOT A FORM OF PROTECTION.” The wrapper picturing Palin said, “WHEN ABORTION IS NOT AN OPTION,” with the footnote, “As Thin As Her Resume.”
New York City Administrative Code § 20-453 says that “it shall be unlawful for any individual to act as a general vendor without having first obtained a license … except that it ...