Court stops Colorado Springs "no-solicitation zone" because of free speech concerns

Silverstein has said that there are already laws in place that prohibit aggressive or threatening behavior, but Colorado Springs officials argue that the law is important for public safety and to protect the economic vitality of the downtown area.

Melcher sent out this statement yesterday in response to the decision:

We are disappointed in the Court's ruling but respect the process. We will carefully review the written ruling when it is issued, likely next week. Our office will consult with City Council and the Mayor, brief them on the ruling and obtain their guidance on future actions in this matter. We continue to believe that the ordinance is constitutional and an appropriate effort by the City to protect our downtown merchants and residents, our visitors, families, and our community. This ordinance was narrowly drawn, carefully crafted, and thoughtfully considered and adopted by our elected leaders. The City did everything possible to create an appropriate tool to protect and support our downtown. We will continue to work with merchants and residents to help the revitalization of our downtown community.

In a press release, Colorado Springs officials note that the court, in its ruling yesterday, acknowledged that the city was trying to protect public health, safety and welfare and that the ordinance was part of an effort to promote a "valid public interest."

Plaintiff Ronald Marshall.jpeg
Courtesy of ACLU
Ronald Marshall, a plaintiff in the case.

What this injunction does is ban the city from beginning enforcement until the trial and a final ruling in the case, which will go forward next year. Colorado Springs says that the court engaged in a complex constitutional scrutiny of the ordinance and did find several factors held in favor of the city -- but ultimately granted the injunction the ACLU requested.

Earlier this month, the ACLU celebrated a delay in the implementation of the ordinance, though the city said it had always planned on beginning enforcement on December 19. Some supporters in Colorado Springs had said they wanted to get the policy in place in time for the holidays, but it looks like those impacted will be able to continue their various solicitation activities, at least until another ruling says otherwise.

Silverstein says that this first ruling is a good sign that the law is on the ACLU's side.

"The court...found that it was likely that we would prevail on the merits," he says.

Here's the ACLU's original complaint:
ACLU Colorado Springs Complaint

And another recent court filing by the ACLU -- a response to the city's call for a "continuance" of the emergency hearing that the ACLU originally requested.
Resp to Mtn for Cont

More from our Politics archive: "Gun control: Ed Perlmutter will introduce assault weapons ban on day one of Congress"

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