Attorneys Shawn Flaherty and Noah Fardo of Flaherty Fardo, a Pittsburgh law firm, have helped to overturn a Pittsburgh City Ordinance affecting freedom of speech.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl signed off on the measure repealing the unconstitutional city ordinance and paying attorney fees to both Flaherty Fardo, LLC and to attorneys for the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice).
Flaherty Fardo helped to sue the city of Pittsburgh alleging a City ordinance violated their clients freedom of speech by prohibiting the distribution of brochures or leaflets on vehicles.
The law in question banned any written literature “so as to cause litter or unreasonably interfere with pedestrians or traffic” without permission of the owner of the car.
Flaherty Fardo challenged the constitutionality of the law by arguing the law was vague and stifled free speech. The plaintiff’s position was in part that litter is not caused by people passing out pro-life information but by the individuals who toss the information to the streets instead of throwing it away.
The settlement with the city of Pittsburgh was helped by “Supreme Court decisions (which) [s]uggest that preventing littering is simply not a sufficiently significant interest to preclude leafleting.”
“From the very beginning, it was clear that this ordinance violated the First Amendment rights of our clients,” ACLJ attorney Ed White told LifeNews. “It did take a federal lawsuit and an injunction from a federal court prohibiting the ordinance from being enforced to get this issue resolved. We’re extremely pleased that this ordinance has been repealed and that Pittsburghers can once again exercise their free speech rights through the distribution of leaflets without the fear of being fined.”
Attorney Fardo agreed stating: “Chalk up one for the Constitution. While the plaintiffs were pro-life, the issue was really a constitutional issue, and the City realized very early that they were legally wrong. Attorney White did an excellent job of helping to force an early favorable resolution.”