Sledding Ban At Capitol Hill Upheld By Local Police

The sledding ban at Capitol Hill has been in place for more than 30 years. Although the law is meant to protect national security, a Congresswoman asked local authorities to lift the ban.

As the region is expecting a significant snowstorm, District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton requested a temporary waiver from March 5 through March 8.

Norton's appeal was presented to U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms Chair Frank J. Larkin on March 4. In her letter, the Congresswoman explained that the region is forecast to receive up to eight inches of snow.

As she has received numerous complaints from residents, Norton asked the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police Board to temporarily lift the ban so residents and visitors can enjoy the winter weather.

Norton said this week's storm "could be the last snowstorm the D.C. area gets this winter, and may be one of the best for sledding in years."

Although Larkin considered the Congresswoman's request, he refused to lift the sledding ban at Capitol Hill. As reported by the Washingtonian, sledding at the Hill poses a risk to national security.

"... there are many families who will want to enjoy the snow tomorrow. Although, for security reasons, the Capitol grounds are not your typical neighborhood hill or playground."

The law is also in place to prevent serious injury. Larkin cited "media reports," which suggest up to 20,000 people are injured each year in sledding accidents. The U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms Chair explained that many cities have been forced to implement similar bans due to liability issues.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, sledding is not the only activity banned on Capitol Hill. According to U.S. Code, 2 USC 1963, "it shall be the duty of the Capitol police to prevent any portion of the Capitol Grounds and terraces from being used as playgrounds or otherwise... to protect the public property, turf and grass from destruction or injury."

Although the sledding ban at Capitol Hill has been in place for numerous years, many residents and tourists continue to risk tickets and fines. Norton said she is "disappointed" with Larkin's decision. However, she pleaded with local law enforcement to ease enforcement of the sledding ban.

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