LOUISVILLE (CN) – The Courier-Journal claims the Louisville metro government passed an ostensible anti-littering ordinance that was specifically targeted at the newspaper. And because the ordinance carries a $200 fine per violation, the paper says it could be fined up to $68 million a week based on its circulation numbers.
The Courier-Journal filed suit in Federal Court, seeking to void the ordinance on constitutional grounds. It claims the restrictions on where and how it distributes unsolicited material infringes on the freedoms of speech and of the press.
The ordinance requires all unsolicited materials to be placed in a distribution box, on the front porch, through a mail slot, securely attached to the front door, behind the screen door or handed to the owner.
“This ordinance prevents both commercial and non-commercial speech from being distributed,” the paper claims.
Specifically, the Courier-Journal says the ordinance will effectively bar it from distributing a non-subscription version of the daily paper, which it bundles with ads and delivers to mailboxes and other receptacles in a plastic bag. The Courier-Journal says it delivers about 340,000 copies on a weekly basis.
The newspaper claims it tries to deliver these freebies near front doors, “but economic and/or geographic restraints make it impracticable to do so in all cases.”
Statements by members of the city’s legislative council revealed that the ordinance, ostensibly passed to curb littering, “was specifically targeted at the Courier-Journal,” the lawsuit claims.
The plaintiff wants the courts to declare the ordinance in violation of the First, Eighth and 14th Amendments. It is represented by Jon Fleischaker with Dinsmore & Shohl.