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Ohio Citizen Action sues Marion


For release: February 5, 2001
Contact: Simona Vaclavikova (614) 263-4111

CLEVELAND –- Ohio Citizen Action, the state’s largest consumer and environmental organization, today filed suit against the city of Marion for violations of the First Amendment. The lawsuit charges that the city’s ordinance, which places a 7 p.m. curfew on door-to-door canvassing and charges registration fees for canvassing, is unconstitutional. Full text of complaint, motion for injunction and declaration of Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director (all .doc).

"The dispute stems from the city of Marion’s efforts to obstruct door-to-door canvassing, an activity that is protected by the Constitution as vital to the preservation of a free society," said Simona Vaclavikova, Program Director at Ohio Citizen Action in Columbus. "Ohio Citizen Action canvassed successfully in Marion for many years until the city decided to enforce its unconstitutional ordinance in 1999."

"Prior to 7 p.m., too few citizens are at home to make our door-to-door canvassing effective. The limitations imposed by the city of Marion prevent us from talking to residents," Vaclavikova said.

Ohio Citizen Action has been organizing citizens from throughout Central Ohio to support the immediate relocation of the students at the River Valley High and Middle school in Marion County, where extensive chemical contamination has been found. "It is essential that we talk with the residents about this serious public health issue," Vaclavikova concluded.

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court by attorneys Edward Icove, of Smith and Condeni in Cleveland, and Kimberly Skaggs, executive director of the Equal Justice Foundation in Columbus. The case was assigned to Judge David A. Katz of the Western Division of the Northern District of Ohio, Case No. 3:01CV 7057.

Vaclavikova said that Ohio Citizen Action has filed about a dozen similar cases against Ohio municipalities in the past ten years, and has never lost a case. "On the rare occasions when we’ve had to go to court, we have always been able to settle the case to allow the door-to-door canvassing to resume and our First Amendment rights to be protected," she said.

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