A Jackson County judge will hear a motion by Commerce activist Tim Redmond on Wednesday, Sept. 7, challenging a Commerce ordinance dealing with the distribution of pamphlets and leaflets.
Redmond, who lives on Troy Street and attends most city council meetings, asks the court to issue an injunction to prohibit the city from enforcing the ordinance, which was passed in the mid-1980s in response to activity by the Ku Klux Klan. He considers the ordinance to be in conflict with the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Redmond cites three specific issues. First, he objects to having to get a permit from the city clerk to distribute information. Secondly, he opposes the requirement that all such matters bear the name and address of the person responsible for the printing and distribution of the materials, and thirdly, he objects to provisions limiting where and how such materials are distributed.
Redmond cites U.S. Supreme Court decisions knocking down similar ordinances, decisions he says should be applied to the Commerce ordinance.
In addition, in his submission to the court, Redmond points out that the city’s “begging and soliciting ordinance,” also a First Amendment free-speech issue, does not require a permit, nor restrict time or place.
“Plaintiff wishes to distribute literature, including anonymous literature, in the traditional public forums in Commerce, Georgia, without license, censorship and any threat of immediate arrest, prosecution, imprisonment and/or fines by the defendants, for exercising any of plaintiff’s protected and guaranteed freedoms of speech and of the press,” his motion concludes.
Redmond first broached the subject with the city council in a Dec. 30, 2015, letter to his city councilman, Archie Chaney, which drew a response Jan. 4, 2016, from then-city manager Pete Pyrzenski affirming the city’s right to “reasonably regulate the time, place and manner of speech.” The letter also advised that “requiring a permit has been upheld by the courts.”
Redmond made a direct appeal for a repeal of the distribution ordinance at the city council’s Jan. 19, 2016, meeting. The council took no action.