St. Louis Judge Delays Cookie Stand Lawsuit

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P.O. Box 300464

St. Louis, Missouri


(314) 604-6621

CONTACT: Dave Roland (314) 604-6621

St. Louis County Judge Delays Cookie Stand Challenge St. Louis, Missouri—For the past six years Caitlin Mills, 16, and Abigail Mills, 14, sold Girl Scout cookies for a couple of weeks from a stand in their driveway. Earlier this year, however, one neighbor complained that her dogs were barking at the people stopping to buy cookies, so city officials in Hazelwood, Missouri, told the girls that a city law governing “home occupations” prohibited them from selling cookies in their driveway. “Caitlin and Abigail knew that the Constitution protects citizens’ rights to use their property in harmless ways,” said Dave Roland, the girls’ attorney and director of litigation at the Freedom Center of Missouri. “They went to the court with a very simple question: Can a local government really ban the traditional, kid-run concession stand? This case is extremely important because it is the first in the nation to challenge the growing trend1 of local officials preventing kids from selling lemonade, baked goods, or produce to passersby.” “We don’t want any special treatment,” Caitlin Mills explained. “We just want to make sure that all kids are free to enjoy this tradition. I mean, come on, almost everyone has a lemonade stand when they’re growing up.” Rather than assuring citizens that the cookie stand prohibition was simply a misunderstanding, Hazelwood enlisted four high-priced attorneys to defend its authority to crack down on pintsized entrepreneurs. Although Caitlin and Abigail are arguing that kids should not be required to get a license to have a temporary cookie stand in their front yard, the City contended that the girls were really asking for a special permit and that they should have to apply for a home

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Freedom Center of Missouri—Cookie Stands August 16, 2011 Page Two

occupation license before the judge could even hear their case. On Friday, the judge apparently agreed, dismissing the girls’ petition without comment or explanation. “The whole point of the girls’ case is that kids shouldn’t have to get their government’s permission for something so simple and harmless as a front-yard concession stand,” remarked Jenifer Zeigler Roland, the Freedom Center’s executive director. “Refusing to hear their case unless they ask for a license kind of defeats the purpose.” “Aside from that,” Dave Roland added, “Hazelwood’s attorneys are telling the girls to seek a license that explicitly prohibits the sale of commodities. Even if they wanted the license it would be futile for them to apply for it. And remember – all this fuss is about whether kids can sell cookies in their own front yard!” The Mills family plans to ask the judge to reconsider the dismissal of their lawsuit or, at a minimum, to explain her reasoning so they will have a clearer idea of how to proceed. If the judge does not vacate the dismissal, the Freedom Center expects to appeal that decision. 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. The Freedom Center provides its services pro bono – clients are never asked to pay and all of the Center’s funding comes from donations made by private citizens and foundations. 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.]