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: