Federal Court Says "Love Letter" Ban Violates 1st Amendment Rights

A federal judge ruled that an Oregon law preventing buyer “love letters” is a violation of First Amendment rights. The letters have commonly been included in home offers, with buyers writing to sellers expressing their desire for a home.

Last year, Oregon became the first state in the country to prevent real estate agents from forwarding such letters to sellers. The law, which was introduced by a real estate agent who serves in the state Senate, was based on the concern that the letters may include photographs and videos and personal details about the buyer which could lead the seller to choose among offers based on the buyer’s personal characteristics, in violation of fair housing laws. The Oregon law did not prevent buyers from communicating with sellers directly, however.

The court found the ordinance to be too broad in restricting buyers’ speech, saying laws already exist to prohibit sellers from discriminating against buyers’ backgrounds and characteristics. 

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