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ACLU of Indiana claims ordinances on door-to-door canvassing violate First Amendment

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The ACLU of Indiana announced Thursday it has filed lawsuits against the town of Yorktown and the city of Jeffersonville because their ordinances regulating the activities of door-to-door canvassers violate the right to free expression under the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, a nonprofit dedicated to issues such as health care, political participation and environmental well-being. The organization routinely uses canvassing in residential neighborhoods to reach out to residents.

Yorktown and Jeffersonville passed ordinances last year that require canvassers to go through “lengthy and cost-prohibitive licensing procedures before soliciting door-to-door in those communities,” the ACLU of Indiana says in a press release.

The ordinances restrict canvassing activity to certain hours and allow a license action to be denied at the discretion of government officials. Those fees and directives violate the First Amendment, says ACLU of Indiana staff attorney Gavin M. Rose.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized the importance of residential canvassing in ensuring a robust debate on public issues," Rose said. “The First Amendment does not permit the government to curtail this activity in the manner chosen by both Yorktown and Jeffersonville simply because canvassers also ask for voluntary donations.”

Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Inc v. Town of Yorktown, 1:12-CV-422, was filed in the Indianapolis Division of the Southern District of Indiana. The case has been referred to Magistrate Judge Denise K. LaRue. Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana v. City of Jeffersonville, 4:13-CV-38, was filed in the New Albany Division and referred to Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann Jr.  

The lawsuits seek a preliminary injunction and later permanent injunction enjoining the enforcement of the ordinances.

William Groth of Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towne LLP and Jennifer Washburn of Citizens Action Coalition are assisting the ACLU of Indiana in both cases.


 

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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