Washington, D.C. -For the last year and a half, officials from the City of New Orleans have told Josh Wexler and Anne Jordan Blanton that they could not sell books on the street. Today [April 15, 2003], U.S. District Court Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. said otherwise.
In a temporary restraining order, issued this afternoon at 2 p.m., Judge Duval ruled that it appears the City’s vending ordinances do not prohibit book vending. City officials have repeatedly told Josh and Jordan their dream of opening a bookstand in the city could not happen without a permit and such permits were not issued. The order allows Josh and Jordan to begin selling their books on the sidewalk near Audubon Park or at the intersection of Esplanade and Decatur. That’s important, because the City Code makes vending without a license a misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to five months in jail.
The temporary restraining order runs until April 30, 2003. On that day, Judge Duval will hear arguments that he should extend the order until the case is finally decided.
Josh and Jordan filed their lawsuit on April 8, 2003, with the help of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice, charging that the City’s ban on book and blank journal vending violates their right to free speech and their right to earn an honest living in their chosen profession.
Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, declared, “The City’s ban on books blatantly violates the Constitution. In this ruling, the Court suggests that the City had no legal basis for stopping Josh and Jordan from vending books in the first place. Talk about arbitrary!”
Josh and Jordan are eager to begin. Jordan said, “We’re very excited. In fact, we’re so excited that we’re going out this afternoon and should be set up by 5 p.m. on Esplanade.”
Founded in 1991, the Institute for Justice has a long record of success in representing entrepreneurial Davids against government Goliaths.