ACLU, Cape Giradeau Agree To Not Enforce Handbill Ordinance

Oct 5, 2012

Last week, a federal judge temporarily blocked the city of Cape Girardeau from enforcing an ordinance that bans people from placing handbills on unoccupied cars. Now, judge John Ross is making that injunction permanent.

The decision comes after the Ku Klux Klan filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming the leafleting ban infringes free speech rights. 

Tony Rothert is the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, who represented the KKK. He says it’s a victory for free speech.

“The ordinance can’t be applied against anyone. Not just our clients in this case, but anyone else who wants to engage in political speech in Cape Girardeau can put leaflets on unoccupied cars,” Rothert said. “While it was the Klan organization that was a plaintiff in this case, it really was a victory not only for their First Amendment rights,but everyone’s in Cape Girardeau.”

The ACLU and the city’s attorney came to an agreement to permanently block the ordinance’s enforcement.

The city must pay the ACLU $5,000 in attorney’s fees.