The Attorney General of Missouri has filed a motion for emergency stay that, if granted, would allow the government to enforce a state law that requires registrants in that state to post a sign on the front door of their homes on Halloween. This motion was filed in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals after business hours on Friday.
According to this motion, the federal district court lacks jurisdiction to issue a statewide Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). The motion then requests the appellate court either to stop the TRO completely or to limit the TRO to the plaintiff in the case.
“It is unfortunate that the Attorney General has challenged the district court’s decision,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci and lead attorney in the case. “This challenge, regardless of its outcome, is sure to confuse both registrants and the public regarding whether Halloween signs must be posted.”
The motion for emergency stay repeats many statements made in prior documents filed by the Attorney General, including the fact that the plaintiff decorated his home for Halloween in the past. This fact is not relevant to the case because that part of the state law is not being challenged. Instead, the only part of the state law being challenged is the sign requirement.
According to this motion, the TRO “imposes an extreme burden on Missouri’s sovereignty.” The motion also states that the TRO “prevents Defendants from ensuring that thousands of children this Halloween do not ring the doorbells of sex offenders.”
“In its motion, the Attorney General fails to acknowledge the potential harm to registrants and their families if required to post a sign on the front door of their homes,” stated Bellucci. “Consideration of that potential harm was considered by the district court and is essential in this case.”
The Attorney General also asserts in its motion that the TRO poses a threat of irreparable harm to the government and to the public. Further, the Attorney General asserts that the sign requirement does not violate the First Amendment because it is not compelled speech. Instead, the sign requirement addresses only conduct similar to the requirement to register.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to complete its review of the Attorney General’s motion on Monday, October 30, and to issue a decision the same day. Prior to its decision, plaintiff’s counsel will prepare and file a brief opposing the Attorney General’s motion.
Download the Emergency Stay: