ACLU of Eastern Missouri Wins First Amendment Case Against the City of Desloge
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ST. LOUIS, MO — Scouts, Little League baseball teams, firefighters and members of the Ku Klux Klan are free to pass out handbills in the City of Desloge. Today, United States District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig entered a consent judgment that the City of Desloge must not enforce the city ordinance that prohibits the distribution of leaflets on city streets and sidewalks.
In November, the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri filed a lawsuit on behalf of Frank Ancona and members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a group that had planned to distribute leaflets in the city of Desloge until learning their actions would violate a Desloge city ordinance. City officials explained that their ordinance restricted all solicitation, which they considered to include the distribution of handbills; the city contended the ordinance prevented scouts, youth baseball players and firefighters from soliciting, as well.
“Broad ordinances restricting speech allow government officials to call for enforcement only when they disagree with a particular message,” says Tony Rothert, the ACLU-EM’s legal director. “In the United States, the government cannot pick and choose what should or should not be communicated. Any attempt to silence unpopular voices through legislation is an attack on the free speech rights we are all guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
Judge Fleissig’s order can be found on the ACLU-EM website.
The ACLU-EM is a non-partisan, not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of civil liberties in eastern Missouri. Located in St. Louis, the ACLU-EM is an affiliate of the national ACLU.
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