Nick, who is disabled and must use a wheelchair, wheels himself through the park. Is he breaking the law?

Facts

The town of Harbor View has one park and the city council has placed clear signs outside it, stating the rules of the park. One of the rules provides: “No vehicles are allowed in the park. Fine: $500.”

Questions

Using your critical thinking skills, answer the following questions and explain your reasoning. You must come to a conclusion for each question, but you can phrase it in terms of “probably” or “probably not.” You should also feel free to identify contingencies (“it depends on if __”), or refute potential opposing arguments (“The city council might argue X, but they would be wrong because Y”). In answering the questions, you might think about the formal nature of the law, the spirit of the law, and the distinction between the meaning of the law and enforcement of the law.

1) Nick, who is disabled and must use a wheelchair, wheels himself through the park. Is he breaking the law?

2) Andrea rides her bicycle up to the park gate, reads the sign disallowing vehicles, dismounts, and walks her bike through the park. Is she breaking the law?

3) A hurricane hits the town, knocking down several trees and branches. The town sends a crew from its Parks Department into the park with trucks to clean up the debris and cart it away. The park will be unusable until this is done. Does the ordinance against vehicles in the park prohibit the clean-up project trucks?

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