News Media Alliance, formerly known as the Newspaper Association of America, has filed an amicus in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the Lexington Herald-Leader. The Herald-Leader is involved in a dispute with the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government over the delivery process of one of its printed products. LFUCG’s council passed an ordinance earlier this year that set new standards for how unsolicited written materials would be delivered to homes in Fayette County.
In April, Sixth District Judge Karen Caldwell granted an injunction at the request of the Herald-Leader to keep LFUCG from enforcing the provisions of the ordinance. In granting the injunction, Judge Caldwell wrote:
The Court recognizes that Lexington enacted this ordinance in response to concerns that it reasonably sees as needing remedied. However, the First Amendment provides great protection to a newspaper’s rights to disseminate information to the public, and the rights afforded by the First Amendment must be vigorously guarded.
Because of this, the Herald-Leader has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that Lexington’s ordinance would violate its distribution rights, and its motion for a preliminary injunction will be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that:
(1) The Herald-Leader’s motion for preliminary injunction is GRANTED; and
(2) The Herald-Leader’s motion for leave to file a supplemental memorandum is also GRANTED.
(3) The Lexington Fayette-Urban County Government and its agents and assigns are ENJOINED from enforcing Ordinance No. 25-2017.
The News Media Alliance, in its amicus brief filed on November 8, and in support of the Herald-Leader, states:
It is no secret that the newspaper industry has suffered significant declines in revenue since the recession that began in 2008. As newspapers struggle to contain costs while continuing to provide their communities with the local news they need to be informed, they cannot afford to invest in costly new delivery methods such as those proposed by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. Driveway delivery has allowed newspapers to efficiently and cost-effectively reach their readers for decades. The loss of that method of delivery would mean the loss of numerous voices in communities that need them.
Free newspapers across the United States rely on the protections of the First Amendment to reach their readers through driveway delivery. The district court correctly found that the Lexington-Fayette County ordinance was an unreasonable restriction on the time, place, and manner of delivery of protected speech, and properly issued a preliminary injunction. The injunction should be affirmed.
There is no known timeframe on the Court of Appeals hearing on the lawsuit.