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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. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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