Tenn. city allows newspaper sales on sidewalks amid lawsuit

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Newspaper vendors in Brentwood, Tenn., may now legally sell papers on city sidewalks, The Tennessean reports.

City officials this week amended the city’s general ban on sidewalk sales to permit the sale of newspapers and other printed material.

The move comes in the wake of a federal lawsuit against the city by The Contributor newspaper, a Nashville-based street newspaper about homelessness, and two of its vendors. The newspaper is challenging tickets that vendors received for selling papers on Brentwood streets to occupants of vehicles.

Since the vendors were charged, the ordinance has been under scrutiny by lawyers for The Contributor. First Amendment experts and even the Brentwood city attorney said the broad ban on sidewalk sales was likely unconstitutional when applied to newspapers.

While city officials claim the revised ordinance should render the lawsuit moot, Contributor attorneys say the change is insufficient because vendors are still precluded from selling to vehicle occupants.

The two sides are expected to meet Aug. 16 in federal court to discuss how the suit will proceed.

First Amendment Center intern Jonathan Anderson contributed to this story.

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