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ACLU lawsuit claims Rose Bud ordinance restricts First Amendment rights



Rose Bud, Arkansas – The town of Rose Bud is accused of breaking the law in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Arkansas on behalf of the ballot issue group for AR Kids.

The lawsuit alleges First Amendment violations by an ordinance restricting petition canvassers at a local function.

The ACLU claims that the law that was approved violates the First Amendment because it forces canvassers to gather signatures only at their booth and prevents them from moving around.

On Thursday, the judge suspended the ordinance in the interim.

According to the code, the only place on city-owned land where someone may request signatures is in a booth or other location that the organization seeking signatures has hired.

According to Rose Bud Mayor Shawn Gorham, the rule was passed to avoid clogged roads at event entrances and exits, where those attempting to enter their annual summer festival may be asked questions by canvassers.

The ordinance, according to Sarah Everett of the ACLU of Arkansas, prevented people from using public property to gather signatures as a means of self-expression.

She claimed it was one of the grounds on which they requested and were granted a temporary restraining order on Thursday. This implies that the Rose Bud, California, ordinance limiting canvassing rights cannot be put into effect.

“The ordinance violated the First Amendment because it kept people from being able to express themselves to collect signatures for specific issues on public property, so collecting signatures for ballot petitions is First Amendment-protected activity,” Everett said.

Gorham said that the legislation was only passed to aid in crowd control at what he described as a well-attended event, and that it had nothing to do with any particular problems or his personal opinions.

“The only thing it would’ve limited is rather than anybody regardless of who you are, you would have not been able to walk around, the location of anywhere other than the booth space that you rented,” Gorham said.

He said that they are following the judge’s ruling and the law to the letter.

For the issues that the canvassers were seeking signatures for to appear on the November 2024 ballot, more than 90,000 signatures must be gathered by July 5.

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