December 19, 2012

ACLU of Colorado wins first round in First Amendment lawsuit against Colorado Springs
City “no solicitation zone” found to be “likely” unconstitutional

DENVER – Federal District Court Judge Marcia Krieger issued a preliminary injunction today that prohibits Colorado Springs from enforcing its recently-passed “no solicitation zone” in the city’s downtown area. In a full-day hearing on December 13, 2012 ACLU of Colorado attorneys argued that the Colorado Springs ordinance – set to go into effect tomorrow, December 19 – violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

“We are delighted the Court agreed to issue a preliminary injunction of Colorado Springs’ no solicitation zone ordinance,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “The charities, musicians and others we represent will now be allowed to continue to exercise their First Amendment guarantee of free expression.”

After the Colorado Springs City Council passed the ordinance on November 27, 2012, the ACLU of Colorado filed the lawsuit on behalf of four organizations and four individuals, including:

  • Greenpeace and Pike’s Peak Justice and Peace Commission (PPJPC), two nonprofit advocacy organizations that want to carry out outreach and fundraising activities downtown
  • Star Bar Players, a nonprofit theater group that solicits pedestrians to buy tickets
  • The Denver Voice, which seeks to protect its right to dispatch newspaper hawkers to the downtown area
  • James Binder, a street musician who plays the flute on the downtown sidewalks
  • Ronald Marshall, a disabled Colorado Springs resident who parks his wheelchair on a sidewalk corner while asking politely for spare change
  • Laurel Elizabeth Clements Mosley and Roger Butts, who assert their right to receive the communications that the new ordinance will silence

“Instead of focusing narrowly on intrusive, menacing or coercive behaviors that invade the rights of others, Colorado Springs banned any and all forms of ‘solicitation’ in a 12-city block swath of downtown, said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “We are relieved the Court agreed that the First Amendment does not allow Colorado Springs to outlaw our clients’ peaceful, non-threatening communications.”

For links to the ACLU’s complaint, legal brief, and other documents, click here.