Free newspaper theft may be outlawed

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has scored another win in its long running battle with Las Vegas officialdom over free expression in the downtown pedestrian mall called the Fremont Street Expereince.

In an effort to block adult-oriented materials in the mall, the city 12 years ago passed a sweeping ordinance to prevent sale or distribution of printed matter. On the theory that the rich and powerful will always be able to get their messages out through television advertising and other expensive forms of expression but that distribution of printed matter such as political and religious material is the medium of the less privileged, the ACLU of Nevada has repeatedly gone to court to overturn such ordinance.

Each time the ACLU won, the city simply reworded the ordinance and enacted it again, the latest version restricting sidewalk newspaper distribution boxes.

In the latest court ruling, U.S. District Judge David Ezra ruled that the newest ordinance “clearly includes the sale of merchandise that carries political or religious messages or the use of tables for religious, political, or charitable solicitation, which are fully protected speech.”