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County repeals flyer distribution ban

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County repeals flyer distribution ban

  • The Stafford County Board of Supervisors rescinded the ordinance after campaign workers sued on grounds that the ban violated their First Amendment rights.

June 25, 2003 — A county ordinance that prohibited the placing of handbills on vehicles or other private property without the owner’s permission and the distribution of flyers on sidewalks that would interfere with pedestrians was repealed by the Stafford County Board of Supervisors June 17.

Campaign aides for state senate candidate Mike Rothfeld, Herbert Lux Jr. and Joshua Morris filed a lawsuit May 16 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria claiming the ordinance violated their free-speech rights.

According to The Associated Press, Lux handed out campaign leaflets and placed them on cars at a commuter parking lot in Stafford. Later, a deputy sheriff called campaign workers, warning them that Lux was violating the ordinance.

Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, said that Rothfeld wasn’t violating the ordinance because he and the county had reached an agreement to temporarily lift the ban, allowing Rothfeld to hand out flyers until the primary.

Before the lawsuit could progress, the county’s Board of Supervisors repealed the flyer ban.

“It is rare that a local governing body moves so quickly,” Willis said. “It was absolutely clear to the board of supervisors the ordinance that in effect prohibit door-to-door hand bill was unconstitutional.”

Stafford County Attorney Alda White said she had no comment on the matter.

(Lux v. Snellings; Counsel: Jack Marshall, McSweeney and Crump; Richmond, Va.) LG

© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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