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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. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

  2. As an adoptive parent, I have to say this situation was as shameful as it gets. While the state government opens its wallet to the Simons and their friends, it denied payments to the most vulnerable in our state. Thanks Mitch!

  3. We as lawyers who have given up the range of First amendment freedom that other people possess, so that we can have a license to practice in the courts of the state and make gobs of money, that we agree to combat the hateful and bigoted discrimination enshrined in the law by democratic majorities, that Law Lord Posner has graciously explained for us....... We must now unhesitatingly condemn the sincerely held religious beliefs of religiously observant Catholics, Muslims, Christians, and Jewish persons alike who yet adhere to Scriptural exhortations concerning sodomites and catamites..... No tolerance will be extended to intolerance, and we must hate the haters most zealously! And in our public explanations of this constitutional garbledygook, when doing the balancing act, we must remember that the state always pushes its finger down on the individualism side of the scale at every turn and at every juncture no matter what the cost to society.....to elevate the values of a minority over the values of the majority is now the defining feature of American "Democracy..." we must remember our role in tricking Americans to think that this is desirable in spite of their own democratically expressed values being trashed. As a secular republic the United States might as well be officially atheist, religious people are now all bigots and will soon be treated with the same contempt that kluckers were in recent times..... The most important thing is that any source of moral authority besides the state be absolutely crushed.

  4. In my recent article in Indiana Lawyer, I noted that grass roots marketing -- reaching out and touching people -- is still one of the best forms of advertising today. It's often forgotten in the midst of all of today's "newer wave" marketing techniques. Shaking hands and kissing babies is what politicians have done for year and it still works. These are perfect examples of building goodwill. Kudos to these firms. Make "grass roots" an essential part of your marketing plan. Jon Quick QPRmarketing.com

  5. Hi, Who can I speak to regarding advertising today? Thanks, Gary

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