ACLU Files Free-Speech Lawsuit Against City
A home on the 2300 block of Mullanphy. Photo by Audrey Spalding.
SAINT LOUIS — A chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit today claiming that a city ordinance banning people from putting pamphlets on car windshields violates the constitutional right to free speech. You can read the organization’s press release here.
The arrest of Gustavo Rendon that spurred this lawsuit happened after Rendon placed fliers advertising a petition drive on car windshields. His fliers promoted a referendum on a recently approved 1,500-acre development of the city’s north side.
Details of Rendon’s arrest records are unclear, mostly because of heavy redactions. According to Donald Re, counselor at the city’s police department, those redactions were made because the charges against Rendon were dropped.
The ordinance, 11.18.180, reads: “No person shall throw or deposit any commercial or noncommercial handbill in or upon any vehicle without the owner’s consent. Provided, however, that it shall not be unlawful in any public place for a person to hand out or distribute without charge to the receiver thereof a noncommercial handbill to any occupant of a vehicle who is willing to accept it.”
From the lawsuit: “Most recently Plaintiffs have been alarmed by their perception that the City of St. Louis is acting together with a particular developer to the detriment of residents who do not have an effective voice in St. Louis City government.” You can read the entire lawsuit here.