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(you) can't fight city hall

You cannot defeat or prevail over a bureaucratic system or its rules. You might as well pay those parking tickets now because you'll never win in court. You can't fight city hall, after all.
See also: city, fight, hall

(You) can't fight city hall.

Fig. There is no way to win in a battle against a bureaucracy. Bill: I guess I'll go ahead and pay the tax bill. Bob: Might as well. You can't fight city hall. Mary: How did things go at your meeting with the zoning board? Sally: I gave up. Can't fight city hall.
See also: city, fight, hall

can't fight City Hall

Unable to overcome bureaucratic rules, as in Brad couldn't get a permit without going through channels-you can't fight City Hall! This term transfers the seat of city government to a more general sense of bureaucracy in any sphere. [Mid-1800s]
See also: city, fight, hall

You can’t fight city hall

sent. You cannot fight a bureaucracy. You can’t fight city hall. Pay the parking ticket and forget it.
See also: city, fight, hall

go fight city hall

The futility of challenging entrenched politicians or establishment. Although sounding like a call to action, the phrase means that any effort to succeed against bureaucracy is doomed to failure. It was popularized, although not coined, in the book Go Fight City Hall by Ethel Rosenberg, who with her husband Julius was later executed after being convicted of spying for Russia.
See also: city, fight, hall
References in classic literature ?
In the meantime Jack was enjoying to the full the stolen pleasures of the music hall.
But young people's tears have very little saltness or acidity in them, and do not inflame the eyes so much as those of grown persons; so that it is not to be wondered at, if, a few moments afterwards, Proserpina was sporting through the hall almost as merrily as she and the four sea nymphs had sported along the edge of the surf wave.
The guests had all filed through The Hall of Chiefs; the doors at both ends had been closed.
There was a flash of the great sword as the outlaw swung it to the full of his mighty strength through an arc that passed above the shoulders of Peter of Colfax, and the grinning head rolled upon the floor, while the loathsome carcass, that had been a baron of England, sunk in a disheveled heap among the rushes of the great hall of the castle of Leybourn.
The grim blackness of the stones told by what fate the Hall had fallen--by conflagration: but how kindled?
Midnight struck from the clock in the servants' hall before she ventured out of her room, with the keys again in her pocket, with the candle again in her hand.
I got up, and went down into the great hall, and so out upon the flagstones in front of the palace.
I like to have the seat in my gig at liberty for any gentleman whom for business reasons I may wish to take down to the hall for a night or so.
No, he would sooner quit Kellynch Hall at once, than remain in it on such disgraceful terms.
brought her to the Hall the maiden was placed in an upper
For this gathering, the Zoological Hall which had been the scene of the inception of our task was found to be far too small, and it was only in the Queen's Hall in Regent Street that accommodation could be found.
Hall Pycroft, to tell my friend your very interesting experience exactly as you have told it to me, or with more detail if possible.
A few moments before the appointed time on the following morning a strong guard of Zat Arras' officers appeared at our quarters to conduct us to the great hall of the temple.
Nor was it at all unpleasant to hear his merry, boyish laughter ringing round hall and gallery, ere it died away against a dozen closed doors.
It must be stated, in honor of the good sense of the loungers of Paris, that the greater part of this crowd directed their steps towards the bonfire, which was quite in season, or towards the mystery play, which was to be presented in the grand hall of the Palais de Justice (the courts of law), which was well roofed and walled; and that the curious left the poor, scantily flowered maypole to shiver all alone beneath the sky of January, in the cemetery of the Chapel of Braque.