A federal judge in Nashville has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a Brentwood ordinance that prevented street vendors of street newspaper The Contributor to sell to vehicle occupants from sidewalks.
U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee Judge Todd Campbell ruled in favor of the city’s motion for summary judgment on Tuesday after hearing arguments from both sides last month.
Brentwood argued that the sale of newspapers from sidewalks to vehicles at stoplights was a safety and traffic issue.
“The City’s primary concern in this matter has always been public safety. Selling newspapers or anything else to vehicle occupants on public streets creates a safety risk,” Brentwood City Manager Mike Walker said in a press release. “It was never the City's intention to prohibit the sale of newspapers or to exclude anyone from Brentwood.”
The American Civil Liberties Union backed The Contributor, a paper sold by homeless and formerly homeless vendors, and claimed the ordinance suppressed its constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of the press.
But in court last month, Brentwood’s attorneys claimed there were other methods of distribution available for The Contributor to sell. For instance, they could go door-to-door to sell their product — or set up vending machines.
According to a statement from Brentwood officials, by ruling in favor of the city, Campbell acknowledged The Contributor’s possible alternative methods of sales and communication.
In response to the ruling, Irwin Venick, attorney for the ACLU, said, “We are very disappointed with the court’s decision because we believe it limits freedom of speech and press. Brentwood’s ordinance unfairly targets The Contributor and its vendors, broadly restricting the very type of face-to-face speech central to the paper’s mission of fostering dialogue about homelessness with people who have experienced it. We are currently evaluating the decision and weighing our options.”
|Brentwood statement on Contributor ruling.pdf||233.69 KB|