Thursday, June 20, 2013
ACLU files suit against Maui County on 1st Amendment violations
by Larry Geller
You’d think that public officials understand the US Constitution that many have sworn to uphold. You’d be wrong. No, not you, it’s just a figure of speech. But really, what’s wrong with these people?
The Hawaii ACLU announced today that it has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Maui County on behalf of two Maui plaintiffs and ACLU members. The suit relates to Maui County laws prohibiting the display of signs (which are protected expressive speech).
According to the ACLU:
Maui County Code section 12.42.030 prohibits sign-waving within 50 feet of any traffic control signal, twenty feet of a pedestrian crosswalk, or six feet of the edge of the pavement or other surface of the highway.
In January 2013, the County threatened to enforce this ordinance against a group of protesters. At the same time, however, the County's own police officers violate these laws by regularly holding demonstrations about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving; indeed, just a few months before threatening to enforce the ordinance against the Plaintiffs and other protesters, Maui Police Department officers had engaged in sign-waving with children and adults along busy Maui roads.
ACLU of Hawaii Senior Staff Attorney Daniel Gluck said:
The law at issue is so broad that it effectively prohibits campaign sign-waving,
protests, picketing, parades, or other demonstrations across large portions of three islands. It is illegal for County officials to enforce these rules against some protesters but not against others, and it is illegal for the County to allow police officers to break the rules for messages the County supports.
A copy of the complaint (pdf) can be downloaded from the ACLU website.