ST. LOUIS, March 20 (UPI) -- A small Missouri town has agreed to drop its ban on distributing leaflets in city streets after being challenged by the Ku Klux Klan and rights activists.
U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig issued a permanent injunction Tuesday against the Desloge ordinance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Desloge officials said after the ruling that they will not try to enforce the ordinance.
The ordinance allowed groups to hand out leaflets on sidewalks, in parking lots or door-to-door, but not in the streets. City officials said the ban was meant to be a safety measure.
The Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, with backing from the American Civil Liberties Union, sued in November, arguing the ban violated the constitutionally protected right to free speech, and won a temporary injunction.
"Broad ordinances restricting speech allow government officials to call for enforcement only when they disagree with a particular message," ACLU legal director Tony Rothert said. "In the United States, the government cannot pick and choose what should or should not be communicated. Any attempt to silence unpopular voices through legislation is an attack on the free speech rights we are all guaranteed by the First Amendment."