The Ku Klux Klan is challenging a new Desloge, Missouri ordinance that bans them from distributing flyers in city streets.
A judge has already struck down a city wide ban on distributing leaflets that the Klan had fought with the help of the ACLU. Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU's Eastern District of Missouri says the Supreme Court has long held that handing out leaflets is protected by the First Amendment.
Rothert says that neither he, nor the ACLU agrees with the KKK`s message, just their right to share it. "We think it’s important for all Americans that they be able to distribute literature to get their ideas out in peaceful ways and let the market place of ideas debate who’s right,” he said.
Rother has suggested the that the city's new ordinance is an attempt to get around the earlier judges ruling.
Desloge city administrator Greg Camp says that's not true. Camp says, it's never been a question of First Amendment rights. "Regardless of the message, we have to respect the fact that everyone has the right to free speech," he said. "The concern is for people being in the road."
Camp says the city consulted with an attorney before crafting the new measure, and they believe it will hold up in court.
The city has until Monday (May 6th) to respond to the ACLU's new complaint.
Desloge is about 60 miles south of St. Louis.
ST. PETERS, Mo. (AP) - A lawsuit filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union claims that the free-speech rights of a Ron Paul delegate were violated when he was arrested outside a Republican caucus in suburban St. Louis last year.
Brent Stafford of O'Fallon was part of the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee caucus on March 17, 2012, that grew so testy it was canceled. Stafford was arrested outside the high school gym where the caucus was held as he tried to gather other supporters of Ron Paul. He was charged with trespassing but later acquitted by a St. Peters municipal judge.
The suit names the city of St. Peters and the arresting officer, Tim Hickey. It seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Messages seeking comment from the city of St. Peters were not returned.
The ACLU sued Missouri's Department of Corrections on behalf of two inmates after voters approved the amendment in August. It argued the measure's ballot summary did not explain how the amendment would impact prisoners. A provision in the amendment says the religious rights of inmates are limited to federal law, which provides fewer protections than Missouri law.
U.S. Judge Howard Sachs dismissed the case in February. An ACLU official says the group hasn't decided whether to appeal this case or wait for another lawsuit.
The amendment is more widely known for protecting public prayer and letting students avoid assignments that violate their religious beliefs.