The Ku Klux Klan and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing the City of Cape Girardeau over an ordinance that bans placing pamphlets on cars.
The ACLU claims the ban infringes the First Amendment right to free speech. The KKK plans to place fliers on cars September 28 in Cape Girardeau, but are subject to fines or arrest under the city's anti-litter ordinance.
The ACLU's Tony Rothert says there are two First Amendment problems. The first, he says, is that the free speech restriction on putting handbills under windshield wipers is not closely tied to the government's interest in litter reduction. Rothert says it is a repulsive message and certainly it's understandable that people don't like the message and don't want to hear it. But, he says having to hear speech that's offensive when you're in public or at public places is the price of having the First Amendment. In 1998, a federal court threw out four Arkansas cities's handbill ordinances over similar arguments. The City of Cape Girardeau's attorney did not comment on the lawsuit.