ACSOL News Alert: Federal Lawsuit Challenges Missouri Halloween Sign Requirement

A lawsuit was filed in a federal district court this week challenging a state law in Missouri that requires registrants to post a sign on the front door of their home on Halloween.  The plaintiff in the case, Thomas J. Sanderson, was arrested last year for violating that and other requirements of the state law at issue.

The basis of the legal challenge is the First Amendment that not only allows citizens to speak but also protects citizens from compelled speech which has been defined as a requirement to utter speech that is false, political in nature, and that he does not wish to make.  The lawsuit requests the court to stop enforcement of the sign requirement.

We are pleased to work with Missouri attorney Matt Fry in this case,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.  “In doing so, we bring to this case and this issue a history of successful challenges to Halloween sign requirements in California.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division, on October 3.  Bellucci will be added as an attorney in the lawsuit as soon as the court approves her admission.  Once her admission is approved, Fry will remain local counsel.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff in the case and his family are gravely concerned that the mandated sign “will invite danger to himself, his family, and his property.”  The dangers posed by a Halloween sign requirement to registrants and their families was recognized in a federal district court in California that granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) in order to protect the registrant and his family.  

In its decision, that court determined that the sign posting requirement was facially unconstitutional and likely to pose a risk to sex offenders and their families and cohabitants.  The court also determined that the “public interest is not served — indeed, it is undermined — by enforcement of an unconstitutional laws singling out a discrete, outcast group to speak in such a way that their persons, property, and loved ones may be endangered.”

An application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) will be filed in this case within the next two weeks.

Download the complaint:

Missouri Halloween Complaint – CONFORMED – Oct 2023

Related articles:

Sex Offender Sues Over Missouri Law Requiring ‘No Candy’ Signs at Halloween [ 10/5/23]


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This is great! ACSOL fights for justice not just in California!

Welcome to Missouri, Janice!!!

Thank you for all of your continuing hard work, Janice! Godspeed! Go get ’em!

Please note that the lawsuit does not challenge all of the Halloween restrictions in this state law. We are only focused upon the sign requirement because several courts have ruled that the sign requirement is compelled speech and violates the First Amendment. I am still looking for a constitutional basis to fight other restrictions such as no Halloween decorations, answering the door, etc.

Go get ‘em, Janice!

As far as a I know there is no data supporting the erroneous belief that bad actors are more likely to commit sexual offenses on Halloween than any other time, (whereas the dangers from being hit by vehicles, razor blades in candy, etc. seem significantly more likely.) And it’s completely nonsensical to restrict adults from celebrating this holiday (or any, for that matter,) at all. Thank you Janice for everything you do to perserve at least some sanity in this world.

Last edited 1 month ago by nameless

Janice, show the show me state how it’s done!

Curious why this was filed in federal court and not state? What determines which jurisdiction?

Registries themselves make “common sense”. I mean, who would not want to know about a person living near them who has done dangerous things in the past? Why is it a problem just to have Registries so people can be “informed”? We all know Registries are worthless and worse, but at least they seem semi-sensible.

Maybe when Registries were first created decades ago they had a bit of a chance to do something productive. But the a**holes who love the Registries just couldn’t leave their dumb little toy alone. As soon as their toy was created, they started f*cking with it. Ever since then they have been adding, adding, and adding more and more harassment/punishment/restrictions as part of the toy. And some of their added harassment has been truly sad and pathetic. They grasp at and embrace any tiny little harassment that will pander to the very dumb Registry A**holes/Supporters/Terrorists (RASTs).

I find their sad and pathetic harassment to be the most offensive part of the Registries. It is more offensive than the Registries themselves. Their Halloween stupidity falls right into that category. Truly stupid signaling for truly stupid people.

So that is why every single year I go out of my way to make sure that I participate in a lot of Halloween activities. If I lived where these criminal RASTs had signs or “laws” about not decorating, I would make sure to leave my home every Halloween and disappear. They’d have no clue where I was. I don’t have any such restrictions and I still do that.

What I like to do is find some town or state that has stupid Halloween “restrictions” and then go there on Halloween. That is the best.

What I did last year was I went out in one of my fanciest, most outrageous, noticeable vehicles and I went to a HUGE party that was nearby. It covered a few neighborhoods and hundreds of homes. The streets are public and they do not try to block them off. However, they do have law enforcement people/vehicles at all of the entrances. They stop cars entering and ask them what they are doing. If you are going home, to visit friends, or whatever, you just drive on. I don’t know if they actually ever stop anyone from entering. But they tell you they’d like for you to drive the streets as little as possible. And there are few vehicles on the streets.

The RASTs are really screwing up here. They should worry that “sex offenders” might be in their midst. They should get law enforcement to use Automatic License Plate Readers at their entrances. But then of course, I’d just drive a vehicle that is not Registered. Maybe check IDs of everyone?! Or facial recognition? I don’t know but the RASTs are failing.

Anyway, so I went there and drove around the streets for a couple of hours. It was really entertaining. There were perhaps 1,000 people out and about. As I drove around I thought about how dumb the Registries are and especially their idiot Halloween restrictions. I was having a good time but I was more angry than usual about the Registries. I had great contempt for the people I saw. A lot of privileged a**holes who likely have no problem with Registries. I thought about how easy it would be for a person who is not as mentally stable as I am to take very serious revenge on perhaps 100 of those people right then and there. I thought about how I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more often. I think it happens pretty often but on a smaller scale. Not even noticeable in violent Amerika.

Anywho, I like Halloween. I’ll definitely partake in Halloween activities this year, as usual. Or maybe I’ll just visit Missouri and wander around. See what’s happening.

It’s important to remember that the registry is not used to quell fears of recidivism, but escalation. The idea that most registrants who have either non-contact or non-violent offenses will suddenly escalate to kidnapping a stranger is akin to fearing a person convicted of possessing meth will suddenly escalate to brutal gangland violence. While some judges do seem to defend the use of a registry due to “recidivism” being a legitimate concern, I actually think far fewer would say that fears of escalation are legitimate and constitutionally valid. I would like to see more statistics on escalation—how many registrants are arrested for more serious crimes, especially when their original offense was not very serious (i.e. one not requiring a lengthy prison sentence). The “recidivism” argument was somewhat relevant back when the registry was far more narrow in scope, but I believe an escalation argument is even stronger now that the majority of registrants have not committed the sort of crime that community notification is even relevant for (how does community notification address internet crimes? Or dating or family offenses?). The idea that men who downloaded CP or were convicted of a dating offense in college will suddenly grab a trick r treated is not rational, as that level of escalation is extremely rare (and I’m guessing statistics would show that this form of escalation is as rare for registrants as it is for men at large).

What’s the point of signs on Halloween when I thought the registry’s red dots were signs to protect the masses, unless most Missourians don’t check the registry on the daily. Time for Misery to stop these treats of discrimination by being taught some tricks from Janice and crew!

What is the only statistic that spikes on Halloween night? The only statistic is, kids getting hit by drunk drivers, or drivers just in general. Maybe we should have a law that all drunk drivers have to stay in during Halloween time? That would protect the kids wouldn’t it? I think that would make more sense. But that’s something the public doesn’t have.

“Outcast group” is putting it mildly. It’s more like intentionally targeted hate and terrorism. It’s unnatural and inhuman to be stalked and hated by strangers we will never know or meet. The registry fosters resentment, hostility and animosity. I feel it and experience it everyday in some indirect form or another without even leaving my place of residence. Our lives are actively being monitized, objectified and devalued.

I have a feeling they’re just testing the waters at this point to see what they can get away with.

🙏🏽Michigan could use a Janice!!!🙏🏽 Appreciated very much all you have done for everyone on these Disibilitating Hit lists

I do hope Mr. Sanderson gets his conviction vacated, as well, restitution is paid to him and his family by the Hazelwood, MO PD, both of which are contingent upon this case, and the state of Misery is taught a lesson about infringing on the 1st Amendment. And if they do lose in USDC East MO, I hope the state appeals to the 8th so the pain of losing again is spread even farther.

Last edited 1 month ago by TS

@ Janice.
It seems that Halloween decorations are really an art form, which is clearly covered under the First Amendment freedom of expression decisions. Under existing court decisions, expression may be restricted only if it will clearly cause direct and imminent harm to an important societal interest. Even then, the speech may be silenced or punished only if there is no other way to avert the harm (from ACLU website).

The term “direct and imminent harm” would be tough for the opposition to demonstrate. Any claims of harm could only be hypothetical. I child might be attracted by the decorations. A registrant might use the opportunity to harm this hypothetical child. This is an extremely weak and speculative argument against a fundamental constitutional right.

California love nationwide, I hope ACSOL sues the Hell out of them 🎃

As far as I know there has never been a single case in CA of someone on the registry assaulting someone on Halloween that came to their door. I do know several years go in my city that a drunk driver hit and killed three trick-or-treaters in a cross walk.

This is great for ACSOL!! 👍🏻
ACSOL is now planting it’s legal “flag” in territory outside California!
ACSOL is going national!

Last edited 1 month ago by David🔱