A motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was filed today in federal district court asking the court to stop enforcement of a Missouri state law that requires registrants to post a sign on the front door of their home on Halloween. If the motion is granted, enforcement of the Halloween sign requirement could be stopped statewide.
“It was important to make this request today so that the court could issue its ruling prior to Halloween,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci, who is now the lead attorney in the case. “The sign requirement places registrants, their families and all who live in the same residence as well as their property at significant danger of harm.”
According to the motion, the Halloween sign requirement constitutes compelled speech because it requires a person to convey a message to which he/she objects due to a government action such as a state law. Compelled speech is a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit challenging Missouri’s sign requirement was filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, on October 3. The plaintiff in the case, Thomas Sanderson, was convicted of violating the state law in question in 2022 after being notified by local law enforcement that he was not required to comply with the state law because he was convicted prior to passage of that law. Before his arrest and conviction, Sanderson did not comply with the state law for more than 10 years.
“The court could rule on this motion before the end of the week,” stated Bellucci. “However, there is no requirement for the court to act that quickly. We sincerely hope that the judge will issues its decision before Halloween.”
If the court grants the TRO, a motion for preliminary injunction will be filed in order to extend the duration of the TRO. The ultimate goal in the case is to permanently enjoin Missouri’s Halloween sign requirement.