The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that an agreement between Burning Man and Pershing County is fully valid and legal, resolving a four-year-old issue relating to how the Burning Man organization and the county work together.
(Update 3/3 11:02 am: here is the full text of the ruling as a PDF.)
Burning Man sued Pershing County in 2012 for breach of contract, First Amendment violations and other issues. We negotiated with county officials and signed a settlement agreement in 2013, but a federal district court judge said the agreement wasn’t valid.
The settlement agreement spans 10 years (from 2013 through 2023) and is designed to cover all of Pershing County’s costs and impacts related to the Burning Man event. Just as importantly, it preserves participant freedoms protected by the First Amendment, which are fundamental to the event and the Ten Principles.
Ours is a culture of freedom, where self-expression is encouraged and celebrated. We’re proud to defend our event and our growing global culture against any effort that seeks to erode those freedoms.
Burning Man appealed the federal district court judge’s ruling, and the county, in its response, agreed with Burning Man’s position by also stating that the agreement was a valid transaction. Today’s announcement overturns the district court judge’s decision and affirms the contract.
We see this is a victory for Burning Man and Pershing County, and we’re pleased to share the news with you. This decision protects participants’ Constitutional rights and validates the agreement we have with Pershing County on how we’ve been working together and how we will work together moving forward.