Editorial: The ACLU strikes again — First Amendment rights at the heart of headlight-flashing case in Missouri
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 07, 2014 | 2262 views |  0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There are few organizations conservatives love to hate more than the American Civil Liberties Union. They see its defense of civil liberties as a left-wing strategy to allow people and organizations to speak and act when many on the right feel they should shut up and sit still.

In particular, law-and-order advocates don’t care much for the way the ACLU protects the rights of the accused when they are arrested, tried and sentenced, and even through their incarceration.

Makes you wonder what these ACLU critics think of the organization’s latest victory over the forces of law and order.

The city of Ellisville, Mo., disturbed by drivers flashing their headlights to warn oncoming motorists of a speed trap ahead, decided several years ago to put a stop to it. The city decreed that anyone using this tactic could be fined up to $1,000 and points could be placed on their license.

Resident Michel Elli felt it was his civic duty to warn fellow drivers, and he did in 2012. An officer saw the flash, pulled Elli over, arrested him, and off to court they went.

Light-flashing or this sort is a time-honored tradition that anyone who has been so warned appreciates. Elli decided to fight his arrest. Eventually, the city dropped the charges and changed the ordinance.

However, a more important game was afoot.

The ACLU went to federal court and sued the city on behalf of Elli, claiming that “when someone is communicating in a public street, (he is) expressing (himself) in such a way that is protected by the First Amendment.” In other words, when Elli flashed his lights, he was exercising his right to speak freely in a public place.

Earlier this week, the U.S. district judge agreed. First Amendment proponents have cheered the ruling.

Thanks to the ACLU, Americans are free to warn others to slow down or they might be pulled over. Moreover, in doing so, the flashing motorist might actually be making the highways safer for us all.
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Thursday, April 24, 2014