While you wait for the City of Seattle to respond to the yellow pages publishers' latest motion in court, which challenges our phone book ordinance as being unconstitutional, take a look at its response (.pdf) to the original lawsuit (.pdf) filed in November.

Basically in a nutshell, it's the same thing again and again and again. The yellow pages publishers claim that the ordinance, which bans them from distributing yellow pages to people on a city-regulated opt-out list is a violation of their free speech rights. But the city, in its response dated Dec. 15 denies that the ordinance is unconstitutional.

"We are regulating the delivery of yellow pages to people who don't want it," said Jean Boler, civil division chief in the Seattle City Attorney's Office. "Government has an interest in doing this in response to citizen complaints. We are taking a very narrow way of regulating yellow pages—we are asking them to pay a fee that will cover the recycling costs that the public has to pay instead."

Bottom line, the city's concern outweighs the Yellow Pages Association's concern. Since yellow pages fall under commercial speech, the city can regulate it as long as they do it in a narrow way (that is not impose hefty fines or penalties), Boler said. "We are regulating them not on content but on complaints of unsolicited paper sent to peoples' doorsteps."

The city has three weeks to respond to the most recent motion filed by yellow pages publishers in U.S. District Court yesterday.