Mills v. City of Hazelwood - March 8 Press Release

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P.O. Box 300464

St. Louis, Missouri


(314) 604-6621

CONTACT: Dave Roland (314) 604-6621

Girl Scout Cookie Sellers Still Fighting To Have Day in Court: Hazelwood Again Argues Judge Should Not Hear Their Case St. Louis, Missouri—At a time when people all over the country are enjoying their annual allotment of Girl Scout cookies, Caitlin and Abigail Mills were in court again this morning as they continued their efforts to ensure that they and other children have the right to sell those cookies from their own front yards. Hazelwood’s attorneys contend that the Mills family should ask the City for a special permit or exemption that would allow them to sell cookies in front of their home, but would not allow any other children to do the same. “What the City’s attorneys don’t seem to understand is that we don’t want special treatment,” Carolyn Mills, the girls’ mother, explained. “We think everyone has a constitutional right to use property in such a harmless way. All children should have this right; they shouldn’t need special permission from the government just to sell cookies in front of their own house, especially when they’re raising money for charity.” This is the City’s second effort to prevent the courts from addressing the constitutional questions that the girls have presented. Yesterday marked exactly one year since Hazelwood officials threatened to haul the Mills family into court if they continued their annual tradition (now in its seventh year) of selling cookies from their driveway. ( Although Hazelwood’s cookie stand prohibition has garnered significant national attention (, city officials continue to insist that the city’s children would be breaking the law if they sold cookies or lemonade from their front yard to raise money for tornado victims in Joplin or Branson. In a press release last year (since removed from the City’s website), Hazelwood City Attorney Kevin O’Keefe stated that the city ordinance would even prohibit needy citizens from using their —More—

Freedom Center of Missouri—Cookie Stands March 8, 2012 Page Two

residential property to sell items that would help them raise money to feed their families. ( While Hazelwood has enlisted several high-profile attorneys to defend its cookie stand prohibition, other cities have taken the opportunity to clarify that zoning laws can be perfectly compatible with kids’ right to engage in this age-old right of passage. Nashville, Tennessee, for instance, allows front-yard lemonade stands as long as they are being operated by children under the age of 16. Some other cities have adopted ordinances that allow sales in residential areas as long as the revenue generated in a given time span remains below a specified dollar amount. City officials in Chadron, Nebraska, addressed the issue by issuing a formal statement that even though citizens cannot operate businesses in residential areas, city policy is that kid-run concession stands are not only permitted, they are encouraged! In fact, in many of the recent cases across the country in which local officials shut down front-yard concession stands (, city officials took care of the situation by simply admitting that it had been a mistake to apply their laws in such a way. “Hazelwood’s elected officials have a range of different ways that – if they wanted – they could make clear that the City has no problem with children selling cookies or lemonade in their front yard,” said Dave Roland, the Freedom Center’s director of litigation. “Thus far Hazelwood has determined that their attorneys’ time and their taxpayers’ resources would be better spent trying to prevent the courts from even addressing the question of whether citizens have a constitutional right to do so. The best solution, though, would be for the City Council to bring an end to this silly prohibition by changing its ordinance to make clear that kid-run concession stands are perfectly legal.” Founded in November 2010 and headquartered in St. Louis, the Freedom Center of Missouri is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to research, litigation, and education in defense of individual liberty and constitutionally limited government. Mills v. City of Hazelwood is the Freedom Center’s third case, and its first focusing primarily on the issue of property rights. Additional information about the Freedom Center’s mission, cases, and activities can be found online at ### [NOTE: To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may call Dave Roland at (314) 604-6621.]