ACLU Challenges Indianapolis Noise Ordinance

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
November 28, 2005 12:00 am

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INDIANAPOLIS – Acting on behalf of a the union leading a local “Justice for Janitors” campaign, the Indiana Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit suit asking a federal court to declare Marion County’s noise ordinance unconstitutional and block the City of Indianapolis from enforcing the ordinance against the group.

“The Indianapolis Noise Ordinance is so overbroad and vague that it prohibits a great deal of speech that is protected by the First Amendment,” said ICLU attorney Jacquelyn Bowie-Suess. “The city’s use of the ordinance against the ‘Justice for Janitors’ campaign prevents the janitors from effectively delivering their message.”

Since mid-June of 2005, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 3 has led a “Justice for Janitors” campaign centered on an unfair labor practice strike on behalf of janitors against Group Service France. The strike consists of picketing on city sidewalks in downtown Indianapolis, where the union and its supporters use various noisemakers, including bells and drums.

The ordinance, Section 391-302 of the Revised Code of the Consolidated City and County of Indianapolis/Marion, Indiana, prohibits “loud, unnecessary or unusual noise,” including yelling or the use of musical instruments.

SEIU lead organizer Rebecca Maran filed an affidavit with the court saying that Indianapolis Police Department officers have reprimanded the picketers on dozens of occasions and issued several citations for violation of the Noise Ordinance.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge John Tinder. No hearing has yet been set on the ICLU’s request for a preliminary court order to prevent the unconstitutional enforcement of the ordinance.

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