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Las Vegas Tries To Regulate The Handbillers
Las Vegas Tries To Regulate The Handbillers

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AIR DATE: September 12, 2012

It’s a practice that annoys pedestrians, but according to civil rights lawyers, it’s protected by the First Amendment.

Handing out flyers on the Strip – flyers with material that is often X-rated, like “girls direct to your door,” or “live exotic dancers,” – is now governed by a county ordinance requiring that the handbillers pick up any of the cards dropped within a 25 foot radius of where they’re standing.

Civil rights attorneys say the ordinance is being selectively enforced with an eye towards material that the County would like to see less of.

“I don’t see them passing this ordinance for In-N-Out Burger or for any other commercial enterprise. It’s just these few guys. It’s very clear that they’re targeting this kind of speech, because they don’t like this kind of speech,” says attorney Marc Randazza, “And that bothers me as a First Amendment advocate.”

ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Dane Claussen says that in addition to the freedom of speech issue, he doubts that the ordinance will be practical.

“This thing about the handbillers needing to clean up after themselves every 15 minutes, and they need to be doing that in a 25-foot radius. Are the police officers going to be standing there with stop watches or tape measures? It’s going to be silly to try to enforce.”

Civil rights attorney Mark Randazza says these types of attempts to regulate flyers have a long history.

“This is a very old fight. One of the every commercial speech cases was about a guy handing out leaflets in New York City to have people come and take rides on a submarine that he owned,” says Randazza. “And it’s not always about hand billers. There’s always something in the community that people say we don’t like that kind of thing … very frequently it has to do with erotic speech.”

Claussen adds that there is no precedent for the way Clark County is attempting to regulate the handbillers.

“This is beyond the pale,” says Claussen. “The reason there’s not a court case specifically on this issue is because no one else in the United States … was silly enough to pass an ordinance like this.”

 

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    COMMENTS:
    We live in Las Vegas. This city was built on the reputation of being a permissive place. The news racks are to me no different than walking through the magazine section of Barnes & Noble and seeing Maxim, Playboy and other "mainstream" publications. The biggest problem with the commercialization of "smut" is the littering and in your face approach of the card slappers. This isn't a family friendly town. People come here to look at scantily clad women, get drunk, gorge themselves at the buffet and have fun. We don't need uptight do-gooders trying to change the Vegas reputation.
    Mike LandisSep 11, 2012 09:42:41 AM
    These handbillers need a permit, right? At least I hope so! If they do, just STOP issuing the permits to operate. Simple. It cannot be considered discriminatory, or restrictive of any rights, because the valid reason to reject the permit over the amount of litter created. Wish I could call in, but am teaching a yoga class, so hopefully this can be read on air....just don't give them permission anymore to be there.
    Gayla CoughlinSep 11, 2012 09:14:20 AM
    I have a solution (which I have sent to each of the County Commissioners back in August 2011). With regards to the Card Snappers and adult publications; they are on the sidewalks because of the First Amendment right that guarantees Freedom of Speech on public property. May I suggest that the county make a deal with the Resort Association that they takeover all sidewalks and other areas from back of curb to the casinos property lines. In exchange, the Resort Association would act as a sort of HOA whereby the sidewalks would become private property that is maintained, and insured by the Resort HOA. The Resort Association would also pay taxes on this acquired property which I am sure would be rolled into HOA dues that would be paid by the individual casinos based upon the square footage in front of their property. This would serve to 1) remove the Card Snappers from the sidewalks (as it would be private property), and 2) force the Resort Association or the individual Casinos to maintain the cleanliness of the sidewalks by periodic power washing and trash clean-up.
    Craig RuarkSep 10, 2012 17:16:22 PM
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